Home Visit: Lady Tatiana Lozano Prieto
Interview & text: Nora Adwan and Daniela Ramos Arias
Q&A with Lady Tatiana Lozano Prieto
T: Tatiana, A+F: ART + FOLK
We visited artist and curator Tatiana Lozano in her cozy apartment in Sandviken. Tatiana’s home is warm, welcoming, full of memories and treasures collected from friends, family, colleagues and moments in time. Her art collection is in constant movement, and we wanted to have a chat to hear about her life in Bergen, her projects and plans for the future! Thank you Tatiana, for opening your home to us.
A+F: Can you tell me a little about yourself and your background?
Mmm, about myself… When I was doing my BA in art, a friend had a project about reading Mayan Calendar to people. According to him my Kin Maya showed: «Enlazador de mundos cósmico blanco» (White cosmic Worldbridger). He made a drawing on paper with that title and a note below the drawing that said: «me guía el poder del amor» (I´m guided by the power of love).
My sun is in Gemini, my moon is in libra, rising in Pisces. ("a bit" complex according to my astrologer [laughs]) A wooden ox in the Chinese. I have many favourite things, never only one, just a very few I can dislike at times. Narcolepsy (mild), ADHD and Dyslexia (high) plus some other features. For those confused about my "gender", I carry an androgynous nature, open to all types of beings capable of love.
First image: by Tove Lise Mossestad. Second image: courtesy of Tatiana.
Named Lady Tatiana (it is true.) by Alejandro Lozano and Julieta Prieto, I grew up in Bogotá, Colombia in a middle class family; never lacked anything thanks to my hard working parents, who raised us with an awareness on the precariousness they grew up with. I got everything I needed, but I learned how to work very hard for things as well.
I saw the sea for the first time when I was 23.
Sorry that was not a little! [laughs]
…and about my background... I was finishing the BA in Fine Arts in Bogotá (2009) when I met Pedro and worked assisting one of his projects in Colombia as a part of his PHD at the art Academy in Bergen. (also true the myth about me being his and his 2 meters norwegian boyfriend bodyguard, downtown in Bogotá, back in the days) [laughs].
He planted the seed about Bergen and to study abroad was already on my list. Success, after three years applying and with my ex-partner Icaro holding my hand, I moved to Norway in 2012 to study the MA program in Fine Arts at KHIB.
I could barely speak english so at the same time I was doing an MA in Fine Arts I had to learn how to speak again [laughs], a new me in another language. Among thousand beers with Christiane, Leander and Karla, pretending I understood all my very international classmates, specially my two British Stacey and Georgia, oh and Gavin, and Amber; picking up sentences here and there from a very international environment, repeating like a parrot, I managed to construct this exotic english of mine. Now I´m trying to truly dive into Norwegian, so when I´m a bit tipsy jeg bare snakke norsk for eksempel.
I finished in 2014, happy, a bit more grown up and done with school with much more than a diploma; then destiny and my stars kept on confabulating for me to continue living and developing projects here in Bergen.
In 2015 Espen, Hedvig and Lasse adopted me as part of their initiative of running an art space in Bergen, so we started FELT galleri. With all the energy and diversity that four brains can bring, we ran together until the end of 2017.
A+F: How did your interest in art develop?
My family never had ever anything to do with art. Their professions were completely away from any art context, although mom was always a fab hyper creative person. #1 in making things extra-special, sometimes to the point you can feel a bit embarrassed as a kid. Awesome costumes, handmade invitations for our mega birthday parties and school homework with extra crafty and super dedicated elements must have made an impression.
My father is a natural singer, and his drawings are amazing as well, but he just sings for friends and just made drawings for me and my siblings when we were little, to illustrate a tale or simply upon request; I remember when I told him a couple of years ago his drawings are fantastic, he would shyly giggle.
Those were some sort of the art symptoms that unconsciously grew within I guess.
When I was 16 I had a crush on a guy who was 29, Ricardo. He lived in my neighbourhood and he was attending the Art academy in Bogotá. I was in my last year of high-school when I met him. It was a long time crush/fling, and influenced by the spark of it, I debated my career choices between philosophy, which I always wanted, and art, which won because of the heart at that time. So here I am, full heart on.
Photos by Tove Lise Mossestad.
A+F: Tell me what it’s like to be an artist in Bergen for you?
TL: Åååå kjære Bergen, well as you can see, my very first answer would be: Amazing! but, amazing, to me, implies a wild ride... Bergen is challenging, and at the same time, it embraces and encourages you in so many ways; in a small city with a large art scene, and yet a good ecosystem of art spaces, the demands of exhibiting are quite high, and the high percentage of what exhibiting means to "be an artist" I would question, but that is another discussion I guess.
It has been a very luxurious struggle. It’s difficult to be an artist anywhere, anyways. Bergen/Norway, has funding opportunities which is wonderful, but the struggles can be placed elsewhere; also, with the scholarships, not everybody get funded all the time, so the luxurious part I would put it more on the side of the embracing and supportive context that Bergen is.
For me the notion of part time money job, part time artist was a new discovery since this wouldn’t be possible to do in Bogotá, at least not when I was living there; the fact of being able to be an artist and still manage to pay the bills somehow, if you know what I mean. Of course, for most of us, juggling a money job on the side. I won't claim it as an ideal situation.
I have been in both positions, with stipends after I graduated, and without. Since I co-founded FELT, I have not received support for my personal work as an artist. Friends were concerned asking me what I was going to do and I said, “well I’m going to work. I’m going to survive and I’m going to be fine.” It’s not a disaster and it won’t stop me from doing what I want, but of course it is hard; I was working at the bar, running the gallery with my colleagues, dealing with a massive heart break, having my own art practice, and ja, trying to have some sort of love life, all at the same time, so it was a lot. It's not easy but it is doable, at least from my experience, so please do not take me as an example cause I can be a bit extreme.
On the other hand, it is awesome having the opportunity of a grant for a period of time. A blessing with a timer [laughs]. It makes it so you can place and focus your energy in you work rather than juggling strategies of survival all over the place. I’m glad I’ve experienced both scenarios and at any point I mean to undermine one or the other, but more to share my experience as I find this topic, to be one of those fragile threads crossing our practices; what we do and how we do it.
A+F: How has the way you view and work with art changed since you moved here? Bergen is culturally a very different context, how has that influenced you?
TL: I come from a context where for instance, art education was very much guided towards definitions and classifications. When I started the MA here and was left to my own devices: my studio and an almost 100% freedom of choice, I was like hæ? [laughs]. I felt somehow abandoned, for good, because that challenged me personally and gave me the chance to throw my work into a void that will later on, throw new perspectives back at me. For instance, my MA project –Misleading Pathways– was all about escapism from drawing, which somehow defined big part of my practice during my BA in Bogotá. Precisely, escaping, brought me to walk the same path in a way that opened new unexpected roads.
First image: Works by Tatiana Lozano. Second image: work by Gabriel Johann Kvenseth. Third image: work by Gavin Frankcom. Photos by Tove Lise Mossestad.
Thinking of Bergen as a non art commerce city for instance, although we try to promote and encourage people to buy more art, I felt from day one, that was not the drive for the artists here to do what they do, and that makes you move in a different direction with your work. The expectations of finishing school and finding a gallery to represent you, where never considered as one of the ways to go after graduation. Do not misunderstand me, I have nothing against artists being able to sell their work, and living of it, which is a miracle when there are cases, but I do think that hard core commerce definitely colours art practices away from certain freedom of exploration. What I have seen here is that people actually have fun with what they do, they enjoy it, of course as a part of a complex process with all the struggles we know of, but there is a why not? to it, which I profoundly admire and treasure.
A+F: You are running your own gallery in Bergen, what inspired you to become a gallerist and curator?
TL: I would not use the term gallerist to define the person I’ve become, mmm and well curator comes a bit after, so if you want to put it in words at this moment, I am an artist exploring curatorial practice.
First image: FELT team. Lasse Årikstad, Espen Iden, Tatiana Lozano and Hedvig Heggem. Second image: Tatiana at P a l m e r a at Fredrik Berberg’s exhibition (photo by Samuel Brzeski). Third image: Tatiana at P a l m e r a.
It was always, in my secret wish list, to have a space for art someday, and life just put it on my path when Lasse, Espen and Hedvig invited me to start FELT. I remember very well running into Lasse one day, super random, in the street; in a regular conversation he just mentioned they 3, were planning to open a space and had already spotted a possible venue, and I just said, wow, well, if you feel like having one more person count me in!
That was the main inspiration to begin with; the period with FELT made me realise something I could be possibly good at and very much enjoy. Which has been sometimes called curation, sometimes programming, producing… I'm a little sceptical about classifications, but I am not afraid of them as soon as it feels true to the context. If someone invites me as a curator in a specific situation then I will be a curator. For me it is very clear though, inside, and in the way I develop my practice, that I am somehow, making of a sort of Frankenstein from both, the artistic and the curatorial.
Randi Grov Berger, one of my lucky stars in life, friend and colleague has been a strong source of inspiration, specially when it comes to -solo band woman- capabilities I look up to her. The guidance and support she provided was pivotal for the beginning of FELT, as she generously shared all her knowledge and experience running Entrée.
Anne Szefer Karlsen, another lucky star, and my peer in the Curatorial program have been definitely a key element for navigation, support, challenge and inspiration.
I mean, this answer could become endless. I am constantly inspired and amazed by conversations with artists about their lives, and their practices, which feeds my curiosity and restlessness. And you know what? I think what inspires me the most, or, at a first glance, is usually personalities, does that make sense? like, ways of being and doing before what or where.
A+F: Tell me a bit about the artworks you have in your house from other artists? How do you come to own these pieces? How do you choose art? What do you look for in the art you choose to live with at home? What’s important to you?
TL: The artworks I have at home are most likely, happy accidents and friendship treasures I have acquired by different means. I´m referring here to an –artist to artist– market, so either it has been symbolic price or an exchange of works. Some have been affection gestures I’ve been very lucky to get. Sometimes I would really like to have a work, but I don’t have the economy for it, so those different types of exchange makes it more cosy and familiar because the value is placed elsewhere; but being able to support artist through a fair economy would be ideal.
I would, of course, love to mention one by one [laughs] and it is not like I have many, but it will get a bit long since every work has a story behind it.
Usually the works I have at home will be a companion to my plants. I´m not sure who chooses who, but I do know that they are friends and those relationships spontaneously happen.
I choose art the same way I choose everything, with my gut. I don’t think much about names, I’m not moved by fame. Specifically, when it comes to works, and works in my house, it doesn't work that way.
In addition to specific artworks, I do have a little shelf, not big enough to hold the collection of publications I have. With that and books, I think I have an addiction problem of sorts.
As you can probably guess, what is important to me is what is close to the heart.
First image: works by Manuel Romero, Andreas Meinich and Circles&wigs. Second image: works by Tupac Cruz and Gabriel Johann Kvendseth. Third image: works by Johanna Lettmayer and Regine Stensæth Josefsen. Fourth image: Tore Winsents, Jiska Huizing and Freja Bäckman. (photos by Jonas Lilleengen)
A+F: Do you have a wish list of works that you would like to collect in the future?
TL: Not really. I don’t think too much about the future as something I can foresee.
The future is a fog of chances. From experience I know that. The idea of the future is important to me there is a fog, but beyond it there is something I could visualise by intuition, not planning.
A+F: Can you tell us some more about this foggy future?
Well... the idea of the fog and the future came to play a big role in my life right after my divorce, when all my beliefs in the future completely fell apart.
I was up in the mountain, running, in a certain state of hopelessness but in that period of trying to build myself up again. I got up to a point where there was just fog and I couldn't find my way back for some time. It was literally impossible to see where I was heading to, but I had to keep on going before it got dark. I felt so lost in a situation that was just resembling how lost I was in my entire being then. Suddenly it came to me that, that was exactly like the future looks like.
Even though it was blurry, I knew, at least, that the immediate future of finding my way back was just behind the fog, and I just had to keep on walking.
A+F: How does this uncertainty and "living one day at the time" relate to your practice?
Uncertainty has been a key word for my curatorial practice. A starting point of a project, would be precisely, –an invitation to uncertainty–, meaning: Let’s do something together, not knowing really when, or how. In a sense, it is a general pick up line if you will, [laughs] but walking together into that uncertainty has let us discover rather than stay just with what we know.
This notion is very in hand with the fog, the future, faith and fate, but it pretty much came out as a practical way to keep on doing and planning while my stay in Norway was shaking at its maximal point since the end of last year. It is hard to plan when someone else is deciding your life, where you can live and how long you can stay. So, leaving one day at a time is something I have school on.
A+F: Are you still making art work yourself? How do split your time between earning money, art related work and free time?
TL: All the time! The brain never stops, and that is making work if you ask me; this is, precisely, something I'm trying to navigate as I'm exploring curatorial practice, so for me it is a blend. My artistic practice and my brain are at the service of running p a l m e r a and working with other artists. Im gravitating around different forms in which artistic practices can be materialized without specificity. I am practicing art through others, not meaning I have ownership on others work. What I’m doing is understanding, the best I can, artistic practices so I can put myself at service with both, artistic and curatorial energies.
How do I split my time is a good one [laughs] I don’t know, well, yes, nowadays Im trying to be more conscious about the importance of «time off» and «me time». There was a period where I would finish work at the bar 4am, then go by the gallery and paint the walls, meet a boyfriend for some kisses, go home and sleep. I don’t do it like that anymore.
Free time I take with my plants and my books home, making food is something that comes as a ritual that would allow me to disconnect somehow. For some reason I have always had a projector with me so home cinema has been always part of an ideal time off situation.
Photos by Tove Lise Mossestad.
A+F: Could you tell me how a typical work day looks like for you? Do you end up working from home a lot?
TL: Wow. My days can be so atypical though. It depends on mood, mercury, love life and amount of work. But in general a working day will be about computer work and meetings. Reading and research I count as my «time off» somehow.
A working day I like is when I wake up at 4am, sometimes 3am, I can’t sleep anymore because I can´t stop thinking so I have to get up. Everything is so quiet, my phone is quiet too. I love it because I manage to almost fit 3 days into 1 if that makes sense? Yoga, meditation, slow breakfast, record player on, laundry. I sit with my computer for a bit and then I’m ready to power nap; 20 minutes. Up again. I would usually have a couple of meetings about upcoming shows and projects. Home again, a walk up to the mountain running down to a sonic youth playlist. Home, shower, dinner, reading, sleep (all these activities with social media distracting intervals).
Home is the best place, specially when I have the chance to work from bed and have a slow breakfast. Heaven.
A+F: What new projects are you developing at the moment?
TL: Im working with the upcoming projects at p a l m e r a, for next year, and onwards; in co-existance with that, I am also on the second year of my studies in curation where I´m exploring precisely, the chemistries crossing artists and curators collaborative relationships. I feel I'm starting new things all the time and that is a great little flaw there, when the brain goes ahead real capacity sometimes, it is in my gemini nature, so I just try to deal with it the best I can!
Thanks so much for your time!