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El Vacío

The creatives behind the immersive installation launch the next stage of their masterpiece in New York

Intoxicating and hypnotic, art installation El Vacío fuses various mediums to create an enveloping experience. Using photographs, sound and a unique candle scent, the project is a collaboration between Jacob Melinger and Alan Paukman of creative studio Nikolai Rose, and artist Gogy. After mesmerising audiences in Tokyo and London, the trio this week take their creation to New York.

The project embraces the digital age, with photos taken by Gogy on his BlackBerry forming its foundation. Print is not neglected, however; this week's launch also sees the release of another element, the El Vacío book. Dazed Digital spoke to Gogy and Nikolai Rose's Alan Paukman and Jacob Melinger about the work.

Dazed Digital: New York is your home city, why does it come last?
Nikolai Rose:
When travelling, everything is new and hazy. A large number of the photographs in this body of work were taken from the trance-like state of travel, and so it felt appropriate to use that as a platform for the first two iterations.

DD: What is different about each city's experience?
Nikolai Rose:
Each show also has a unique combination of images on display, but the different crowds in each city really make the exhibits what they are.
The work has also evolved. For New York there is new photography and video no one's ever seen before. It's also a homecoming, we want to make everyone proud.

DD: What did you want audiences to feel when visiting?
For a while in my life, I found solace in a colder world. I want you to be in that chaotic place when you step into El Vacío. I want to fuck you up, I want you to feel wrong, conflicted, lustful, alone.
Nikolai Rose:
It is a displacement into Gogy's world. Fabric hangs from the ceiling in layers, filtering light from projectors, forming a fluid canvas for Gogy's photographs. Dim lights and enchanting music draw visitors in, while the seductive scent of the candle begs them to stay longer. The installation is a space to linger in, not just to observe.

DD: Gogy, what drew you to reinterpret Salvador Dalí’s work for the project?
When Salvador Dalí was asked what he would rescue from the flames if the Museo del Prado were to burn down, he responded that he would only save the top right corner of Las Meninas, the painting by Diego Velázquez. He referred to this dark area as "El Vacío". That corner always drew me in. Over the past two years, I have been compulsively taking photographs on my BlackBerry, trying to capture my mental perspective. Looking closely at these photographs, that dark corner of Las Meninas was the only thing that could define what I was feeling. Nothing felt concrete, I felt like I was living in El Vacío.

DD: What do you love about using multiple mediums?
If all your senses are occupied, I think it's hard to snap out of our world because you won't be able to escape it unless you leave the gallery. 
Nikolai Rose
: The combination of mediums is essential in bringing visitors to another mental, physical and emotional space.

DD: What can be expected from the book?
Nikolai Rose:
It's an extension of the experience. Many of the themes from the installation are present in the layout of the book: layering, repetition, and a sense of déjà vu.
It's a narrative. You'll notice very chaotic moments leading into erotic ones that then lead into very serene ones.

DD: What is up next for you?
Nikolai Rose:
We're working on a couple other collaborative projects, as well as a new collection of Nikolai Rose jewellery.
El Vacío helped me have a sort of out of body experience, and pick out the good parts in the darkness. I’m gonna run with that. My new project is called VANILLA.

El Vacío runs from August 23rd – 26th 2012 at MINY Gallery, 29 Greene St, New York, NY 10013