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El Vacio (=The Void)

Artist Gogy and New York studio Nikolai Rose have teamed up for an exhibition at London's Wayward gallery, inspired by Salvador Dali and Diego Velázquez

New York based artist Gogy has collaborated with creative team Nikolai Rose, to create ‘El Vacio’ (‘The Void’), a multi-media experience. Open now at the Wayward Gallery, London, the project uses an array of different mediums including, photography, print design, video, installation, a website and an ‘El Vacio’ candle. All of these elements have been placed together to create a ‘feeling’. 

At the core are images Gogy produced using his mobile phone, the artist then involved the team at Nikolai Rose for the design of the book for the images, as well as configuring the main installation aspect of the project for the El Vacio experience. It seems to be more than an experience though, and rather a complete immersion into a world of seduction, euphoria, danger, treachery, and beauty. The premise is to take us away from the grounded and physical world to a place where nothing is definite, a void. We caught up with Gogy and Alan Paukman and Jacob Melinger at Nikolai Rose, to find out more about this project and why they wanted to awaken our senses in this surreal, intoxicating experience.

Dazed Digital: Can you describe for us what viewers will experience when they enter ‘El Vacio’? 
Nikolai Rose: The project emerged out of the desire to capture a feeling. Gogy's photographs describe fleeting moments in his life, seen through his filter of romance, mystery, and greyness. The project really is about "entering" and experiencing this filter. It describes a mental and physical space that everyone has been in before. The project employs a number of techniques - layering, filtering, echoing, doubling, emptying - to recreate this feeling. We wanted to create a space that you have to be inside of.

DD: It’s been said inspiration was drawn from Salvador Dali’s vision of Diego Velázquez’s painting ‘Las Meninas’. Is doing an interpretation of an already existing adaptation something that appeals to you? 
Nikolai Rose: What’s notable is that the specific feeling can be found across time, rather than a reinterpretation or vision triggered by a classic work. Dali was once asked what he would save from Madrid's Prado Museum if it was burning down. His answer was that he would only save the air contained in Velasquez's Las Meninas, which he named "El Vacío" or "The Void". The idea of this seemed like the appropriate context in which to frame our project. By nature, the idea escapes a definitive interpretation, which is why it can be revisited again and again by ourselves and others. 

DD: What was it like collaborating with each other on this project? Gogy, why did you choose to go to Nikolai Rose with your concept?
I love what they do. And they understand me as an artist and were genuinely interested in not only creating a monument to this feeling. 
Nikolai Rose: We have have wanted to collaborate for some time. The original idea was for Nikolai Rose to show a separate piece alongside Gogy, but this quickly evolved into us working alongside Gogy to design the “frame” for his work, to really consider the context in which the images would be presented.

DD: For the show you’ve produced images, a candle, a soundtrack, a video etc. What do you feel is the benefit of using this many mediums?
Nikolai Rose:
The successful outcome of the El Vacío Project is an all-encompassing feeling. We chose certain senses to play with, in order to create a bridge for the viewer to cross. We worked with some great people to make this possible: Frederick Bouchardy at Joya, Jonathan Vingiano from OKFocus, and Daniel Fisher a.k.a. Physical Therapy. 

DD: Despite all these elements coming together there’s still a sense of ambiguity, is this what you intended, for each visitor to have their own personal experience, rather than a communal one?
Nikolai Rose:
The ambiguity stems from a need for each viewer to reach a comprehension of the greater project. We can provide a description of the installation/pictures, though to truly relate to the project is more than knowing what it is. Though El Vacío can be personal, this isn’t to say that it cannot be a communal experience. If someone enters the installation, and wanders through it they become part of the experience for 10 other people in mutual comprehension.

'El Vacio' ends 22 Nov, at The Wayward Gallery, 47 Mowlem Street, London E2 9HE