Studio Visit with Lala Abbadon

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Wave on Wave from the Meta Weave Series, Lala Abbadon.

This week I had the opportunity to speak with artist, Lala Abbadon, in her Long Island City studio. Abbadon’s highly interdisciplinary works combine digital art, photography, and craft, fusing digital age iconography with ancient weaving traditions to create a truly unique aesthetic experience. Abbadon’s work is made by cutting photographs into strips and weaving them back together following intricate patterns of her own design. Abbadon further blurs boundaries between digital and analog technologies by photographing her computer screen with a macro lens to achieve a pixelated/digital effect with a film camera. Her destructive/reconstructive process transforms photographs into beautiful, complex meditative pieces that challenge binary notions of analog vs. digital and 2D vs. 3D art forms.

Janina Anderson: How do you choose what kind of imagery to work with?

Lala Abbadon: All of my work is developed as a sort of narrative, so the pieces go through a degree of natural progression and build upon each other. This progression plays a big role in the images I choose to work with, but when it comes to actually making the final photo selections I always try to trust my intuition.

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Lala Abbadon at work in her studio. Photo via The Creators Project.

I have a large photo catalogue of everything I have ever shot. I also shoot staged scenes, or photograph specific parts of my paintings, in order to recreate an image that has come to me in a dream or a waking dream.

The larger pieces I do exemplify the conceptual or metaphorical components of the smaller works in the series. They sometimes require more planning or closer scrutiny into how the photos will interact when woven into a specific pattern. The imagery I am working with now is an even split between figurative portraiture (from my first woven series, Love Tooth) and my newer, more abstract work (Metaweave Series, Fractal Realities). I have been working in a completely abstract manner for the past year or more, so the return to the figure is challenging. Finding a new way to represent a portrait is a big underlying issue in the photos I have been making lately. That being said, the designs I have been creating allow me to have more synergy between the portrait and the abstract print I weave into it.

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Work in progress in Lala Abbadon’s studio.

JA: When did you start experimenting with weaving?

LA: Weaving came into my life completely unexpectedly, and I discovered it without any formal training. I think it is important to note that my conception of weaving, and specifically the patterns I use, may vary greatly from a textile weaver. That being said, I have done a ton of research into woven patterns since I wove my first two little photo prints in a simple basket weave. At that point, I started to see how I could change the structure of the grid to make more interesting patterns with my abstract prints. Weaving paper has the unique problem of needing to lay flat and uniformly (lacking the drape of fabric or yarn), so my work necessitates a unique solution to accommodate this. That is why when creating my own patterns, I know to steer clear of certain historically tight patterns, or design some way to alleviate it. I approach my design much like a drawing, creating a stage for the images to act out a story.

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Everything that Secretes in Wetness Turns to Ice in My Underwear, From the Love Tooth Series, Lala Abbadon.

JA: Looking at your work, I am completely intrigued by the juxtaposition of digital imagery (via pixilation and the way RGB screens appear when re-photographed) and the quintessentially analog practice of weaving. How do you think about the relationship between analog and digital in your work?

LA: The juxtaposition of digital and analogue used to be one of the key concepts I was exploring in my work, and will always be a huge part of my practice. But I am less conscious of trying to make a point of it at this time. It’s crazy because I have lived in the digital age from it’s birth, and a screen has become more to me than anything I could have imagined. The internet has always provided for me. I have always treated it as a tool to get what I want or need out of this universe. It is the ultimate liminal web- it connects us all. I am a bibliophile, and a philomath, so I’m obsessed with processing information and spitting it back out into the world with my weird reconstruction of it.  And I always wanted to effect people positively, so the Internet allows me to do that and to connect with people on a very intrinsic level. My work is about connection. I’m trying to remind us not to get lost out there in the ether, forgetting what we are all here doing together. I spend a huge number of hours trying to recreate that feeling, in a concrete form, as an object, and how better than by weaving, one of the oldest and most functional forms of art. The work I do is like one long performance piece.

JA: I notice that you are starting to move to toward larger scale pieces, playing with three dimensionality. What are the next steps for you in this body of work?

LA: I definitely want to continue to push the boundaries of space and time with color and design in my woven work. I struggle sometimes because my mind is on much larger, much more involved projects – more installations, more experiential work. I know my woven works are an experience, and I am continually coming up with new ways to display and present that work, but I am really interested in displaying all of the underlying concepts of my work on a larger, installation based scale.

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Death is to Life as ______ is to ________. Installation. From the Fractal Realities Series. Lala Abbadon.

Layering has been creeping up as the most significant new concept to my work.  Working with transparent prints I have been messing around with the idea of manual opacity – creating the effect of the opacity tool in real life, real time. And that all ties in to light, one of the most important photographic concepts. I want to use light in a more direct way, in a more immediate way.  Everything needs to be more about the present moment and less about the past – that’s where the work is going.

Lala is currently working as an artist in residence with the Artha Project in New York City.  She lives quietly with her partner, artist Julio Cesar Williams, and their parrot, Poquito. For more information about Lala’s work, visit lalaabaddon.com.

If you are in NYC, you can view Lala’s work at Outpost Artists Resources, opening on October 2nd.

Article by Janina Anderson, 2015. Janinavanderson.com.

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