Isa Balog / Rennes

Tell me a crucial / turning point in your evolution as an artist. Are there any aspects in your biography that influenced your journey?

There are many turning points, but I often remember the conjuncture that put me on this path. I remember it as an anecdote, probably because that’s what it really was.
My artistic journey was not a personal choice but a hasty decision made by my father.
He was a musician in the Brașov Philharmonic and he wanted me to follow the same path. I was taking oboe lessons for a whole year in order to take the entrance exam for music high school in the fifth grade. My tutor was a good friend of my father and he was going to be my examiner. On top of that, I was the only one who was going apply for studying oboe, so the exam was a done deal.
The only thing I had to do was to take it.

The day of the exam came. It was held on the premises of the high school of music and fine arts.
It was the exam day for all instruments and for the formation of the fine arts class. We were waiting in front of the teacher’s room, together with all the students and parents, to be told the rooms where the exams were going to be held.
In all that commotion, my father ran into a former classmate he hadn’t seen in a long time. He had brought his son (Radu) to apply to the fine arts class. The dads were very happy to see each other. They seemed to have a lot to say to each other and to talk about the old days, but they wanted to do it in a different, more familiar and quiet setting. This is just an assumption I made, after hearing them several times shortening their answers with an “oh, but there are so many things to talk about, we take the children to the exam and then go have a good talk over a beer ” or “oh hear me out, but wait… let’s take the children to the exam and then go to a beer garden, grab a beer and I’m gonna tell you more about it “. I don’t know how long the wait lasted, probably an hour or maybe a little bit over. Just as much as I needed to hear about 15-20 similar phrases that all ended with “kids on exam and beer”.

Eventually, the exam classes for fine arts were assigned; the children entered the classes, the exam started. I was left with the two adults surrounded by some future instrumentalists who were waiting for their examiners. Some were directed to the classes, others, like us, were still waiting. My examiner was not coming; time went by.
I don’t know how much time passed after Radu entered the exam, but not that much, a maximum of 5 sentences ending with “my daughter at the exam and beer”.
In all that heat, I can’t remember which one of the two adults had the revelation of solving the problem, but when my father looked at me and asked me gently: “Isa, wouldn’t you rather prefer studying fine arts?”, we all saw it like a certitude we had in front of our eyes for so long but we hadn’t been able to see it until then. I answered with relief and to everyone’s happiness: “Yes”.
Radu’s father took me to the exam room, apologized for being late and made up an excuse (the exam was held in two classrooms, each with about 15 students, I was late due to poor management). He hinted with a gesture to Radu to give me brushes and colors. The sheets were given by the high school. I scribbled on one a still life and on the other a composition. I got into fine arts.

How much has isolation changed your daily routine? How has it changed the way you create?

The daily routine has become kind of a planning challenge.
I live with my boyfriend and our son in a 65sqm apartment (consisting of two bedrooms, one open space: living room-kitchen and a balcony).
On the first week, we tried to work as best as we could, but we realized that we were too disorganised to work without a predefined plan. Therefore, we created a program: one day out of two, one of us locks himself away in the room and works while the other takes care of schooling, entertaining and supervising the child (aged 3 years). The other day in two, we reverse the roles.

The schedule is from 8:00 to 16:00, afterwards we come together in the open-plan living room and Sunday is a shared weekend.
The space we live in has also changed quite a lot, we have adjusted it to suit our new needs: one bedroom + open-plan living room + balcony, they have become playgrounds, crossing and resting rooms for the child, and the other bedroom we turned it into a workspace. Here, instead of the desk, it used to be a bed. Because we needed an empty section of wall and a desk too, I moved the bed in the middle of the room, just enough to open the door without stumbling directly into it.

Is the work you are creating now part of a series or is it not related to the previous ones? Is there an element / symbol / theme that appears recurrently in your works?

I am working on a multimedia installation: “Anamorphic memories”. It is about a hybrid project that brings together several disciplines: video, performance, optical theater, also having an immersive side (through a game and a scenography that is progressively unveiled, the installation integrates the viewers by placing them at the center of the plot).

The technique I use is not related to previous projects, but the starting point and the questions remain the same: the subjectivity of memory and the diversity of points of view.
Initially, my means of expression were drawing and painting. In recent years I have started to combine them with video, dance, performance, installation and regarding the project I am working on now, painting and drawing are not part of it at all. I think that previously I tried to adapt every idea I had to the techniques I knew, and now I am switching back and forth between different disciplines, trying to find the means of expression that will fit best to my idea.