Sunday, August 15, 2010

#2 - Rutu Modan

You prove – in your comic books – that you are a great observer. So do you try to remember every meeting and every conversation in your real life? Do you pay attention even to the smallest detail of the environment or people’s behaviour?

I admit, that eavesdropping is one of my hobbies... One of the reasons, that it is such fun being an artist, is that it makes you more aware of the world around you. Images, conversations, human behaviour... it makes life more interesting, because everything has some meaning, everything becomes material. And you might use it in your work, so you are never bored. 

You write about yor family, about Israel, but never about politics. Do you think, that artists should not write about politics?

I don’t think, that artists should not write about politics, but I don’t think we HAVE to. It is dangerous for an artist to think of "important subject" to write about and than do it. The art should come from a truthful, deep personal places of the artist. If not, he is in danger of writing a shallow propaganda. As for myself - I am not interested in writing stories that will explain the political situation in Israel or to tell my opinion about it. Of course, I have opinions but I dont think they are so original or more smart then other people’s opinions. In my work, I try to show my point of view about life. I try to understand how – as human beings – we are stuck in our random, personal, small reality and how we are trying to survive it for the best. For me this is also politics. Besides, family interactions are not different from politics interactions.

You are always looking from a distance at your characters (even when you are telling about your family). You are leaving interpretations and emotions to the reader. Aren’t you afraid, that the reader will miss and will not understand too many things?

I prefer not to write in a way it is too understandable. The beauty in art is that once it leaves the artist's mind it has a life of its own and you cannot control it completely (by the way, this is true for the artistic process as well). I try to be communicative, but not to the point where I feed the reader with a spoon with my ideas. The reader should have some space for himself in the text.

Your stories are very often about family, identity and secret or tragic past. You are showing, that all this things have a strong impact on poeple’s lives. This subject comes from your personal experience?

Every family has secrets. These secrets can be important or silly, big or small, but it is a part of every family, nescessaty for a bunch of people living together. My family is very secretive. For example, in my family you never say where you are going, or if you do – you lie about it. My mother used to say: “In a family, you should not say everything...”. I also remember a story, my father told me once, that when his family escaped from Poland in 1940, they arrived to Triest and his mother told him he should pretend he is a tourist (what does it mean?). He said, that for him it was very exciting. So it seems, that secrets are something of a character in my family. And writing fiction stories allow me to tell these secrets without exposing them, since in the story I change the names and the places until the essence is left without the gossip.

Cinema has movement and music has sound. And what – for you – distinguish and make comic books a different medium?

Simultaneity – the ability to have few events in the same time happaning on the page, few people talking in the same time (and you can "hear" them well), etc. This is unique to comics 

Many critics say, that everything in art had already been said and done. If that’s true, what are the new solutions and horizons for comic books?

Everything was said and done and it is and will be said and done again and again from the begining of times till the future. Love, money, death, war will always be interesting. What is new, is the ways we find to deal with these subjects. There will always be new ways. What is exciting in comics, is that it is still a new medium and there are still plenty to invent and explore.

If you could take only one picture, what would you photograph?

My funeral.  

You can also find Rutu Modan here:
- Drawn & Quarterly

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