UFEX is a digital design collective comprised of Mikkel Møller Andersen and Kasper Fjederholt, based out of London and Copenhagen respectively. They recently opened an exhibition/collaborative show with Bora Tanay at Artary Off Space February 14th–dealing with “extemporaneous human sculptures” that subsequently explore the different aspects of “modern social constructions.” UFEX often create “analog” sculptures that are photographed and constructed in a way to make them appear inexplicably digital. Their series, “Eyes, Ears, Mouth,” is a fascinating example of sculpture that straddles the liminal and collapsable worlds of real/digital, handmade/photoshopped, showing that perhaps the boundaries are not as concrete as we thought. The result are hilarious meditations that push the boundaries of “reality,” authenticity and the absurd.
So UFEX is actually a collective/design duo- can you talk about how you met, and what aspects you contribute to the projects? Is it entirely collaboratively, or where do each of your interests lie?
We met each other 5-6 years ago at this foundation like school in Copenhagen. Even though our style and creative interests have completely change since then, we still think scarily alike.
Now that Kasper has migrated to London, we mainly collaborate on big things, like exhibitions. Most of the work we are doing right now is various exhibition work or research for upcoming shows. We do individual research, tests, fabric hunting and meet up and do intensive work together. That might be why our expenses for flights are quite high.
What’s your process of creating works like, from the inception of an idea to its creation?
Most of the time we both have directions we want to go and we try to make them meet. There is a lot of discussion and the frustration seems to become a necessary part of our process. We usually end up with a better compromise, than any of the original ideas.
Then all the fun parts come, the actual research and the creation of the idea.
What are some of your sources of inspiration, whether art, design, music, philosophical…
There’s a lot of things that inspires us and then we take the parts we can use, for example it may be the energy, atmosphere, material or light which then gets translated into our practice. If we have a specific idea of what we want to work with, we look at related work and see what their conclusion is. In general sculpture, photography and illustration obviously inspires us, cause it all relates to our work. We also draw a lot of inspiration from fashion and theater.
I love the images “Eyes, Ears, Mouth” from the exhibition at Art Gorillas in Bangkok. Some of the images, such as the levitating furrball with a Cyclops eyeball and a feather in its head look digitally modified? Can you talk about how you made these, and what your inspiration behind them was?
None of the pictures where digitally modified afterwards, we only got the lighting retouched. The premise of the work was to create all the sculptures in analogue, but still make some of them look like they couldn’t exist in real life. There was a great deal of tape, strings and patience involved.
Many of the images verge on the borderline of being mundane objects simply transmorphed through the inclusion of eyes and mouths, others look impossible—can you talk about the “reality” or “authenticity” of your imagery?
We try to rearrange the mundane and common in order express something a bit more complicated. Our work has the tendency to revolve around manmade constructions, how we assign meaning to them and how easy or difficult it can be changing it.
Your works evoke an undeniable sense of whimsy, verging on the ridiculous at times. What role do you think humor plays within your works?
We don’t use humor deliberately, but we always try to explore and push the notion of the ridiculous.
The work “Mr San Francisco” seems to have a similar aesthetic- what’s this piece about to you? It’s pretty hilarious—changing a kind of gesture of defeat or worship into a comedic box-sweater man.
It’s a transition between the Bangkok show and our next one in Stuttgart. It deals with the notion of a human construction and uses the body to expand sculpturally. In our upcoming show we worked with German based artist, Bora Tanay to further explore how the surroundings can build upon human constructions.
“Rich Promises” is also a sort of sad-sack romantic gesture—in keeping with your works from “Eyes, Ears, Mouth.” There’s something hilarious about a personified bouquet—what were you thinking with this piece?
The piece is an experiment for a longer series, where we’re working with floral motives. A homage to Giuseppe Archimboldo and his way of painting humans.
I also love the design you did for Efterklang in collaboration with Nan Na Hvass-what was this collaboration like? How was it working together, and what do you think of the final project?
The Efterklang project ended that way of illustrating for us. It was a big success, both the album, but also the following music video. Working with Nan Na was very inspirational, she’s one of our best friends and a constant source of inspiration.
However, after this success we needed to rethink UFEX and we slowly began to work more with photography as a means of documenting illustrative work. We’ve discovered that we could use three dimensional objects/sculptures as another way of illustrating, this then leads on to enable us to incorporate art direction into our practice. Ultimately, we adopt a way of working that incorporates the commercial practice of illustration and art direction as well as embracing the realm of fine art.
For us the Efterklang project is very important, cause it forced us on a different and necessary path.
Who are some of your favorite artists and designers?
Erwin Wurm, Ettore Sottsass/Memphis, Estelle Hanania, Emmeline De Mooij, Pierre Cardin, Oscar Schlemmer, Maurizio Cattalan, Mark Manders, Gordon Matta-Clark, Anne De Vries, Jean-Paul Goude/Grace Jones, Piotr Baro and a thousand more.
From UFEX’s latest exhibition, “Until The Light Takes Us”
From the series, “Eyes, Ears, Mouth”
Mr. San Francisco
From the series, “Eyes, Ears, Mouth”
Efterklang illustration in collaboration with Nan Na Hvass