'I'm a mind traveller'

'I'm a mind traveller'

'I'm a mind traveller'

From being an advertising expert to an assistant lecturer at the Art Academy (Kassel) to finally pursuing art and photograph, Catrine Val has many skill sets to boast of.

But what the bangaloREsident at the Natya & STEM Dance Kampni still hasn’t managed to do is master the art of pronouncing the City’s name correctly, which she continues to call ‘Bangaladore’.

Speaking about her time in the City, during which she integrated dance, video and photography in ‘The Lotus Chronicles’, Catrine calls it ‘a most intimate experience’.

 “It was the biggest honour to see how close I could work together with people I didn’t know but who allowed me to jump into their souls. There were many emotions and situations that came together, unexpected friendships were formed and the after-taste of this culture won’t go away too easily. I’m not in the mood to leave,” says Catrine.

Despite being her first visit to India, she feels like she’s been here before. “I’m a mind traveller – I’ve read a lot of books about India, practise yoga and even beat the dancers at it. I had no freedom at all because I was constantly on tight schedule. But there was always one higher expectation than the other, which was amazing,” she adds.

Over the span of her career, Catrine has worked on various photo-series including ‘Engineer’, ‘Valentino’ and ‘Cinderellas’, with her recent ‘Feminist’ series being converted into a book.

However, she prefers not to use the ‘photographer’ tag.

“I work with the medium that best translates the concept in mind,” she clarifies.
She confesses that she has found a tag that she doesn’t mind though. “I’m a Photoshop monster!” she laughs.

Another word Catrine despises is ‘creativity’. “Creativity’ is a word full of dilemmas. So is the topic of ‘what is art’. One should never ‘try’ to make art. The only thing is to have discipline and work very hard on your project.

After a couple of years, you will know your own language,” she recalls from experience.
So how has she developed her personal style? “I come from a very different background. I was trained in advertising and saw what it means to really visualise a brand and I hated it. But today, I work from the vehicle of my advertising knowledge, which I put it into my art experience. I was used to working in a team but now

it’s only me. I don’t have a production team or even a tripod! I just look in the wardrobe, think of which identity I want to choose for the day, scout for locations and work on my look. I have a huge collection of wigs!” reveals Catrine.

She continues, “I don’t follow stereotypes and always try to break them. I make some fashion ‘faux pas’ in my work but am constantly trying to hide myself because I don’t feel comfortable in my own body.”

Catrine also emphasises the recurring notion of identity in her self-portraits. “It’s about where I am, who I want to be and how many possibilities lie in the ocean. I’m often
talking as a female person in my works because the art world is ridiculously male-dominated.”

So how does she feel looking at herself during exhibitions? “It’s not me but a character I’ve created. I can go for my exhibition and not see myself. Perhaps it’s my nose that’s so recognisable,” she concludes with a smile.