A little while ago, Estonian mixed media artist Laura Kuusk was teaching art at a middle school in the south-east of France. While collecting workshop ideas for her class to get crafty with, Laura became fascinated with pop-up techniques, the kind you find in children’s books, for example. She began experimenting and was hooked. And so began a fascination which lasted long after her class had completed their own pop-up tasks; her students didn’t quite “fall into it as much as I did,” she says.
Since then, Laura has continued with the medium from a conceptual art point of view, recently even having her own book of works published, aptly titled Pop Up Book. However, rather than the usual illustrated 3D panel narrative that pop-up artists tend to create, Laura’s take on the medium collates and collages images the artist has found via Google image search.
Working with material plucked straight from the web in this way sees Laura mixing her traditional way of working – primarily photography, video and installations “connected to recycling anthropological visual (found) materials” – with her new found fascination.
To begin, Laura would start by imagining a situation or a character to build a sequence for. “For example, around the keyword of ‘family’ I would find different configurations or imagine different relationships, and the setting that would express this relation,” the artist tells It’s Nice That. “There’s a lonely workaholic woman, coming home to her dog and a comfortable soft carpet every evening, and passing the evening with TV shows and a glass of wine.” Another iteration is more conceptual, featuring a couple but one’s head is a cabbage and the other’s is a rabbit, before switching back to being more literal again when she interprets the word “official”, collaging a business trip to the Taj Mahal.
Initially, Laura just exhibited the works as single cards pinned up to allow them to pop. At one show, the unique works were spotted by publishers Lugemik Editing House, who proposed the idea of housing the artist’s works in a more traditional pop-up setting of a book.
To logistically make this happen, however, Laura had to rework her practice a little, “since everything had to be printed on one page, with one cutting matrix per page,” she explains, whereas before each print had been cut by hand with a scalpel.
In turn, Laura’s managed to create a publication unlike any other on the shelves, mixing fine art thinking with a fully accessible format.
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