Filip Custic likes to talk, but not always with his mouth. He talks with objects, body language and a perspective that is warped somewhere in the space between you and him. Figures are manoeuvred into unexplored positions, strategically placed objects challenge a viewer’s depth of field, and a game of tug-of-war is played between care and contempt.
As a multidisciplinary artist, he works mostly with photography, video and composite audio. Not only producing pieces for a gallery context, Filip works with his creative partner Kito Muñoz to collaborate with mega brands such as Gucci, Opening Ceremony, Palomo Spain, Victor Nouman and more. His output is drenched in hard-heartedness, or at least a deconstructive approach to beauty, because what he makes is definitely beautiful, even if not immediately visible.
Hayley Morgan: I love how your work has a sense of magic to it — has this always been your approach?
Filip Custic: A few years ago, I emptied myself to start from the beginning, writing my imagination in a more conscious way. I realised that I liked to play with the laws of physics and optical illusions to create my own world. I investigate myself via my work, so everything has a psychological element to it. It helps me to communicate what comes to my mind.
You also have a really interesting way of interpreting the human body, what provokes this?
I love Cubism and the way it questions order. I like to do it in my own way, to complete the elements of the world I’m building.
How do you explain to your models what you’re trying to achieve?
In the beginning, I like to explain the idea so they can better understand the energy of the project. I always say: “Feel like a sculpture, or like a king or a queen in a painting from the Renaissance… chin up, maintain this pose and don’t move.” The models I work with like what I do, so it’s easy to communicate.
As well as utilising the human body, your work features a lot of ordinary objects. What draws you to them?
Unconsciously, I’ve always played with objects — they’re everywhere — but for the last two years, I look at them more consciously. They have a psychological meaning for me. And maybe that same object means something completely different for another person. When I approach them I like to hear how they sound or to change the original function. I like to imagine how I would use one of them, if no one had taught me before.
It sounds like there isn’t a huge separation between fantasy and reality in your work…
Everything is real if you can imagine it. For now, what I want to do is to make the world I’m creating through my art actually become real. Virtual reality is the best technology I have at the moment to make this happen.
Collaboration seems to be a key element with your work and progression — what impact does collaboration have on you? Which ones have been the most meaningful?
I like to share my way of thinking and my world with everyone — I have nothing to hide, I am a communicator. I also love to be surrounded by inspiring people and luckily I have very particular friends. We help each other to grow spiritually and creatively. I’ve been working with María Forqué (@maria7orque) lately doing human installations, performances and different kinds of actions in places such as MoMA, Soho House and different galleries. We both study pataphysics — the law that regulates the exception — and now we have a common project called 1por1 (@_1por1_). I’ve also collaborated with other friends such as Alejandro Gómez Palomo (@palomospain), Soraya (@rosalestales) and Kito Muñoz (@kitomunoz). I like to mix my way of thinking with creative people that I admire and love. With the mix, we can achieve something new.
Is it important for you that people understand your work, or is the confusion deliberate?
Everything I do communicates something. If something doesn’t have a meaning, it is not interesting for me. To do it, I like to use a camera, but also via human installation.
Does your work have any intentional political, social or emotional stance? What exactly are you trying to communicate through it?
Basically, I want to know more about myself and to understand what happens in my mind. What I do [through my work] is try to materialise the images, the objects, the feelings and the sounds that are in my mind. My ideas come from my psyche and my dreams. I’m working on the creation of a world that’s free of all the toxic and destructive systems we live with, which, for me, are systems like capitalism. I play with the light, not the darkness. I’m developing a vocabulary of objects. For example, if I use mirrors, it’s because I’m working with the concept of the reflection, because all the people around me are a reflection of myself and I like to see what I have to learn from that mirror.
Is this dialogue one that could create a better world?
I communicate a message of good energy. Showing my perspective of reality and my way of thinking, I want to show that listening to yourself is the way to achieve happiness.
Do you fantasise about anything before you sleep?
Before I sleep I always meditate and practice astral body.
What scares you most?
The human unconsciousness. We need to know more about ourselves to know how to better function as a society.
Photography: Filip Custic