January 12, 2020In Magazine Feature

THE HANDBAG – Interview stayinart

THE HANDBAG

Interview with Debra Franses Bean

Handbags as an art object – at first we were surprised, then skeptical and the next moment we were madly curious about who and what was behind them. A personal conversation with artist Debra Franses Bean was an absolute necessity in order to understand her artistic concept. She counts herself to the artist group ‘Beautalist’, who are primarily concerned with confronting the viewer with beauty and this can also be quite painful when a barbed wire bag made of 22 carat gold comes into play.

Portrait of Debra Franses Bean, © Sandro Hymes

My Artbags allow me to explore the many facets of my own life experience and to push the boundaries of visual language. About travel, longing, loss, illness, fear, beauty, consumption, wealth, nostalgia. This is my life project. I’ve always been fascinated by psychology, philosophy, and anthropology.

W.e would like to know more about your background. Do you have classic training in fine arts or are you self-taught?

Both are the case. I was educated at a few prestigious London art institutions, City and Guilds and Central Saint Martins. I was concerned with the philosophy of art, especially with concepts such as the relational aesthetics of Nicolas Bouriard, Camera Lucida, Roland Barthes and Gilles Deleuze, a French philosopher, and Félix Guattari, a French psychoanalyst and political activist. The art school enabled me to test my ideas and challenge my aesthetic senses. My first degree was in economics and politics, which opened my eyes to the challenges in general. At the art school I wrote a thesis entitled “The Aesthetics of Intimacy”, that still inspires me. The fierce reviews, the diversity of nationalities, and the languages spoken helped me develop my own visual coding. I am fascinated by creating a non-verbal, universal form of visual communication that can transcend cultures and economies. The training gave me an understanding of the world that helped me to formulate my ideas and priorities, to understand consumption and the political turbulence against the background of the rave and club culture in IBIZA in my very own way. All of this, along with a year of work in advertising, helped me find my way of communicating. the diversity of nationalities and the languages spoken helped me develop my own visual coding. I am fascinated by creating a non-verbal, universal form of visual communication that can transcend cultures and economies. The training gave me an understanding of the world that helped me to formulate my ideas and priorities, to understand consumption and the political turbulence against the background of the rave and club culture in IBIZA in my very own way. All of this, along with a year of work in advertising, helped me find my way of communicating. the diversity of nationalities and the languages spoken helped me develop my own visual coding. I am fascinated by creating a non-verbal, universal form of visual communication that can transcend cultures and economies. The training gave me an understanding of the world that helped me to formulate my ideas and priorities, to understand consumption and the political turbulence against the background of the rave and club culture in IBIZA in my very own way. All of this, along with a year of work in advertising, helped me find my way of communicating. I am fascinated by creating a non-verbal, universal form of visual communication that can transcend cultures and economies. The training gave me an understanding of the world that helped me to formulate my ideas and priorities, to understand consumption and the political turbulence against the background of the rave and club culture in IBIZA in my very own way. All of this, along with a year of work in advertising, helped me find my way of communicating. I am fascinated by creating a non-verbal, universal form of visual communication that can transcend cultures and economies. The training gave me an understanding of the world that helped me to formulate my ideas and priorities, to understand consumption and the political turbulence against the background of the rave and club culture in IBIZA in my very own way. All of this, along with a year of work in advertising, helped me find my way of communicating. To understand the consumption and the political turbulence against the background of the rave and club culture in IBIZA in my very own way. All of this, along with a year of work in advertising, helped me find my way of communicating. To understand the consumption and the political turbulence against the background of the rave and club culture in IBIZA in my very own way. All of this, along with a year of work in advertising, helped me find my way of communicating.

Und how did the handbag come into play?

The handbag as an item is both deeply personal, private and intimate. The content tells a story about where you’ve been, where you’re going and what needs someone has. Whether aesthetic, practical, nostalgic or exaggerated. Often it can be glasses, money, lipstick, a key, a fragrance – there are connections between the objects that tell a story or suggest an identity. At the art school we were asked to bring a significant object to be cast and I selected one of my old, impractical little designer handbags, much to the surprise of my tutor and peer group.

D.a recent work of art is a bag made of barbed wire that contains a beautiful white dissection bird. Can you tell us a little bit about the inspiration behind this piece and what it embodies?

This work is inspired by the very first bag I created that was not molded in resin. It was a plaster cast with thumbtacks covering the handle. The weight of picking up the bag caused great pain in the palm of the hand. I called the work “have and hold”. He takes up the subject of pain and adds joy to it. A 22-karat gold barbed wire pouch contains a delicate white bird. Protected and captured, unable to fly, held, confined and yet gilded. It is the “catch 22”.

D.A works are therefore conceptual, modern and abstract and still evoke an aura of the classic, especially through the adoption of the feminine. What is so important about the handbag, its connection with the feminine and its role as a ‘container’ for you as its creator?

A limited space, like a canvas, only three-dimensional. My father was in the handbag industry, and my sister and I got beautiful handbags and longed
to be sophisticated women. We took our mother’s makeup and experimented with the disguise. The handbag has always been my favorite accessory.

D.A work of art has developed over time, can you tell us a little about this journey and also how you imagine your future work?

I grow and change and learn, so do my art. I don’t have a crystal ball, maybe in 5 years I won’t be here at all.

W.What role do you think art plays in society?

Art is a place of wonder and challenge. It helps us to focus on things that are important for artists and also for society. Without art the world would be too practical!

D.u are a member of the ‘Beautalist’ art movement. Can you tell us something about “Beautalism”?

When the philosopher Immanuel Kant thinks about aesthetics, he combines beauty with human imagination, nature and the sublime. Kant explains that the sublime is a sensation that is only accessible in the spirit and is evoked by encountering things that we find overwhelmingly beautiful and powerful. It can also be associated with feelings of awe, and Kant argues that we experience the sublime by looking at beauty in nature and in art. The works of art by the “beautalists” confront the viewer with beauty. But beauty has many forms and many faces. It’s classic, complicated, strange, and shocking. It is abstract, gentle and aggressive. Some of the “beautalist” artists produce beauty in its pure and sublime form, while others seek to expose the dangerous or even ugly side of beauty. However, through their works of art, they will recognize the power of beauty. It can be sexual beauty, stupid beauty, or capitalism’s despicable but seductive use of beauty. Beauty is the unattainable ideal, a myth we keep chasing after, and yet it is undoubtedly always exciting to look at. The art movement of the “beautalists” is about the visual appeal of beauty as well as its potency. To put it bluntly (or brutally), the “beautalists” are brutal about beauty.

Und what does the concept of beauty mean for you personally?

Beauty is the intimate journey that I head for as an imaginary destination.

W.ow would you describe your artwork’s relationship to fashion?

Fashion creates identity, belonging, individuality and protection. We both strive for beauty and originality. Good art, like good fashion, is timeless.

A.Would you describe fashion as art?

I always like to stick to Alexander McQueen’s quote: “Fashion should be a form of escapism, not a form of captivity.” Art explains and reveals the depth behind the visual carnival of fashion.

W.hat have been your greatest successes so far?

To create some iconic Americana museum pieces for the Coca-Cola collection to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the classic Coca-Cola bottle shape. My work was shown together with my art heroes Andy Warhol and Ai Wei Wei at the 2015 World Exhibition in Milan. My Artbags allow me to explore the many facets of my own life experience and to push the boundaries of visual language. About travel, longing, loss, illness, fear, beauty, consumption, wealth, nostalgia. This is my life project. I’ve always been fascinated by psychology, philosophy, and anthropology.