Ilja Karilampi Artist Absolut Art — President Room
sc: What is The President Room? ik: Good question! A space where democracy starts. It’s like the cop has kicked in the door. And it’s an immersive Absolut Art bar in connection to Absolut Art Award ceremony weekend in Stockholm. I´ve tried to transform a hidden, underground garage space in central Stockholm into an engaging and performative environment, drawing on and layering elements of Sweden’s street culture. To get there you need to pass Bergsjön, a suburb outside Gothenburg, and then enter Mehmets Livs, a bodega filled with an eclectic selection of imported snack food and confectioneries, unusual soft drinks and toiletries, as well as work by me. Mehmet sits behind the counter. Through a curtain at the back of the Mehmets Livs, visitors will pass through a concealed door to enter the inner Presidential Room. In that room everyone is a star. It's VIP – no, it’s beyond VIP. I’m not a royalist, but you are the king of the night, for real. It’s an homage to Stockholm – the hoods, the glimmering inner rooms of the capital. sc: What happened in The President Room? ik: What didn't happen? It was a heterotopia of some sort. Hopefully our visitors felt liberated and energised, as everyone was the President for the night. The performers were also great, both nights. sc: And who are you? ik: Ilja Karilampi. Everything is there for you to find out. Some of my recent solo shows have been at Sandy Brown, Berlin; Belenius/nordenhake, Stockholm; Marbriers 4, Geneva; Mazeh 9, Tel Aviv; New Jerseyy, Basel; samt MOMA PS1, New York, among others. Some other group things at The Moving Museum, Istanbul; Kunst-werke, Berlin; 1857, Oslo; and Chisenhale Gallery, London, and until october TRUST, Copenhagen Art Festival You can also follow me at the radio show downtown Ilja, at Berlin Community, or on www.karilampi.se. sc: How did this collaboration come about? ik: Saskia Neuman, the global art manager at Absolut, gave me a call. I said 90% yes at the beginning, because I didn't yet know the amount of work it would take. sc: The project is inspired by urban street culture. What is your relation to the scene? ik: To quote Whitney Houston, “I'm every woman, it's all in me”. It's my soul, it's my heart. I can´t really view it from a distance since I feel very involved in the “scene,” regardless of what you want to call the genre or label of it. sc: Tell me about the atmosphere and music at
The President Room? ik: Music is so important. The installation will feature a changing nightly program of live music, and performances. Those will include, among others, experimental Swedish producer Baba Stiltz and British DJ, producer and radio presenter Kayper. Other guest performances include Faze Miyake, a grime producer and Rinse FM DJ from East London who was the namesake of my 2014–15 exhibition at Belenius/nordenhake in Stockholm, and a live performance by Swedish rap artist JOY. Plus an impromptu set by Gothenburg artist Etzia. I'm doing some warm-up sets as well. Then all the new aluminium works, the scenic settings, the UV labels. The sculptural narrative that we´ve tried to enforce on the audience. The light, the sounds, the fence wall dividers. I hope the images of The Presidential Room can explain more. sc: What kind of music person are you? All-eater? I´ve always been deeply into British music, a lot of “black” music, that's the stuff I can relate to. But also like Dutch teenage stadium house and all that. It's hard to define. sc: Your work have been exhibited in many prestigious art galleries. What would you say was your breakthrough in your career? ik: Everything. The first show, the next show, The President Room. Everything is important. sc: What triggers your creativity? ik: The world, Faze Miyake and you. Radio channel Rinse.fm. But mostly to get something done, for someone special to see it. I´d like to prove something aesthetically. sc: Tell me about an art piece that evoked strong emotions at the earliest stage of your life? ik: Mozart. I was precocious when I was young and loved Mozart and Beethoven. When I was 6 I listened to classical music. Now I'm more into to rap and house music. sc: Tell us about your role models or people that have influenced you? ik: Mozart again. And after that there are too many to mention. Daniel Birnbaum. Ulla Karilampi, Dad Karilampi. Faze Miyake, Niklas Belenius, Saskia Neuman and more. Isabelle Graw from Texte zur Kunst. Strong female role models. sc: What does the collaboration with Absolut Art mean to your career? ik: A possibility to make it happen. The borders was unlimited. I had a vision and it could come through, luckily. A whole lot! sc: Do you have any advice for aspiring artists out there? ik: Yes, Do your thing. Do your thing. Do like me but at the same time don’t. I don´t know.