Hello and welcome to the Place Presents series. This article is about you getting to know at least two people. The first is Ivan Labalestra, the second is Konrad Kargrüst. Now, a little disclaimer would be to say that we managed to talk to Ivan but not to Konrad, why? this article will iluminate and answer that question a little later so you can now choose to either watch the video first and meet both of the people above and more or you can keep reading bellow.
Text by Roland Hoogwater.
Film & Edit by Ivan Labalestra.
Let us start by introducing Ivan to you, dear readers. Mr. Labalestra is a 24-year-old skater from Luxemburg, he studies art over the border in Germany, Saarbrücken to be exact. He shares his time between the art school and Luxemburg city, a place famous, for skating, for the grand opera spot that many, and we mean a lot. Skaters from all walks of life and all ranks within the “sport” visit this piece of skated architecture to film, hang or just skate. Not Ivan and his crew, they enjoy the older parts of their city, “I just think that for my personal taste the older spots have sort of aesthetic that suits my eye more.” So instead of going for some of the more “easy” things to skate in Luxembourg (city), they choose to hunt down spots.
This, for a large part, dictates not only the look but also the types of tricks you can do. “I will see a spot, and know who I would like to see skate it. Often I end up bringing them there in the hope that they will do a trick for the video.” And in this one can see his artistic approach, “wanting a look” is not something that most of us are chasing. Maybe we are wrong, some of the top filmer/editors most likely do think of the “vibe” of a video and to be honest contemporary architecture does exude very different energy. One can choose multiple techniques to mix things like William Strobeck did in Cherry by blending places through the use of Black & White images, in effect blurring some of the details between for instance L.A. and N.Y.C. Or you could use Jim Greco as an example who uses a combination of a Panasonic AF-100 which is then filmed out onto a 35mm Intermediary Kodak Negative, and then printed positive onto 35mm Kodak Stock and scanned back to digital. When we asked Ivan about his influences when it comes to his style of working he mentioned Seamus Foster to our surprise but also: Benny Maglinao, Matt King, Logan Lara, and movies in general.
We say all that to say this, to make a good work of “art” or a work of “expression” you will have to make choices to get to an interesting point. In essence, that means, at times, alienating one part of the viewers and drawing in another. But Ivan doesn’t do all this alone, his voice shows signs of excitement when he speaks about Florentin Jadin who has the last section in this video. Florentin is a standout in other video projects by Ivan, Like FROST FLOWER and for those of you that pay attention there are moments where Flo & Ivan even give a nod to tricks they did in other videos. In their very own way, they are like Tom Knox and Jacob Elliot Harris who are connected to each other through and through.
Another thing running through the talk we had was the influence of skating on his work as an artist and vice versa. “I did some performances where I put skateboarding in a different context, trying to skate a flat bar in a gallery-type setting where the focus is more on the process than just lading tricks.” Another way this influence is seen in his project called “Hello Walls”, “I am hesitant to call it a clothing company but we do clothing as well, It is a creative output for me.” It seems that making things is at the core of Ivan and his group of friends but enough about them. let’s focus on the person the video is named after.
Konrad Kargrüst is a person we have not met, but he is present throughout this video. In fact, the title of the video bears his name. He did leave a statement though but because Konrad was nowhere to be found, we asked Ivan to tell us something about him in his absence:
“Konrad is a homeless person living on the streets of Luxembourg. He is an interesting guy who collects all kinds of objects from the street and puts them together to create a sculpture-like construction. He told us that his sculpture was not a plant, nor an animal, and not human. He called it the “fourth existence”. That is why I separated the film into these four “chapters”. The last section of the video is the “fourth existence”. In the interlude before the final “chapter”, you can hear a voice, which symbolizes Konrad, talking to the skaters and explaining what his plan is. At the same time, this is also used as a presentation of the main characters in the film. The objects that appear during this same (narrative) scene, illustrate one of Konrad’s constructions.”
“Maybe all this doesn’t really make sense, but it doesn’t need to be clear. Everyone can have their own interpretations of the film. I took Konrad as an inspiration, a starting point, and came up with a small story, which I wanted to include in the video since his presence had made quite an impression on me.”
And as far as this project goes we feel like that is a great ending statement, we will be watching what Ivan does next and we hope Konrad, Florentin Jadin, Juliuszesz Melon, Mathieu Wojtylka, Nico Uhler, Sven Kiefer, & Thomas Kiefer will make another visit tour our computer screens.