Brussels-based artist Christopher Coppers destroys to create – construction and deconstruction forms the essential elements of his approach. His tools: magazines. By ripping up, cutting in and reshaping the printed matter, Coppers carves out second lives for the magazines he works with, the resulting body of work ranging from installations and large-scale sculptures to smaller, one-off pieces. In his biggest show to date, Brussels’ Bodson Emelinckx Gallery shows an overview of his works of the last two years. Entitled ‘Trash TV’, the show critically explores today’s TV culture and media-dependent society. We caught up with the artist the day following his show’s opening to ask him about the exhibition, shit TV and why magazines are God.
What’s the idea behind Trash TV?
I was born with TV, grew up with it and realised how shitty it actually is. I just had to do something about it. First Trash TV was a term only used in the US, until about 10 years ago, when we could observe the same development here in Belgium. The Trash TV installation explores five themes: childhood, reality TV, sex, games and American sitcoms.
What’s the message you want to pass on?
There’s not really a message behind it. It’s more about just pointing out the current state of television, what we have to live with at the moment.
In your installation you throw TVs into a bin – do you own a TV?
Yes, I own one and I watch pretty much everything. But I look at it in a different way, to get inspired for my work.
What’s your biggest criticism of television as it is today?
It’s continuously becoming less and less interesting. We are watching emptiness. We cannot just leave it at that.
Who’s responsible for that? The viewers who make ratings of questionnable shows go up or the TV makers who assume that the viewers are stupid? It’s the old discussion of what was first – the chicken or the egg…
For me the TV makers are responsible. They try to copy the US where TV is horrible. They play commercials all the time, even when there might be an interesting programme it’s difficult to watch because of that. There’s a lot of money behind it, it’s nothing that can change overnight.
Your exhibition is quite eclectic actually and shows many different aspects of your work – can you tell me more about your fusion of magazines and iPods?
I wanted to play with technology and combine a medium of the past (the magazines) with a medium of the future (the iPod). Who knows how magazines will develop? Will they even still exist in 30 years? Will they maybe have moving images inside?
You also show your classic magazine cuttings that you are most known for.
Yes, it’s some of the newer pieces. My technique is much more refined now and I pay more attention to details.
Magazines are almost like a religion nowadays. They tell you how to dress, what to eat, where to go out, how to live.
The exhibition also includes an installation dealing with Belgian politics and recently you did a project on the G8 countries. Is your art becoming more political?
A big no. I really don’t want to be a political artist, not at all. But when something so absurd happens as Belgium being without a government for ages and politicians singing the national anthem wrong – then I just have to do something on it, I cannot ignore it. In the G8 project I focused on the flags and played with that aspect that countries can be like brands as Nike or Honda for example.
How would you describe your artistic development since you started?
My art evolved over time. I explored different themes but always went into the same direction. My artwork gets updated by what happens around me – take the technologic developments for instance.
What’s your working process like? How do you start out when you make a new piece? Do you make drawings?
Everything happens in my head. When I have an idea I get completely obsessed with it and cannot sleep anymore until I’ve figured it out. So I plan everything in my head and then I just do it.
Why magazines? Did they always have a special place in your life?
Yes, I’m very passionate when it comes to magazines. I’ve regularly been reading magazines ever since I’m 10 years old. There is so much information inside them, images, colours…and as they usually only survive for a limited amount of time and end up in the garbage after a week or so, I wanted to give them a second life. And I feel like the people behind them don’t get enough credit, they never have their moment of glory. Also, I find that magazines are almost like a religion nowadays. They tell you how to dress, what to eat, where to go out…how to live in society.
What is your favourite magazine?
How long does it take you to transform one single magazine?
It depends – sometimes a few hours, at other times several days. I like to work parallel at different pieces so I can stop and come back to them later.
Which other artists have influenced you?
What inspires you?
Life. Life and its absurdities.
[nggallery id=109]Christophe Coppers’ Trash TV runs until 25th February Bodson Emelinckx, Rue de Henninstraat 70 – 1050 Brussels www.bodson-emelinckx.com