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funterview: nefeli the artiste

who are you? … i’m nefeli. the way i write it is “nephele.”

where are you from? greece. athens.

what do you do? as a living? usually i’m a waitress.

you lived in indonesia, too? i was there to do a scholarship program for one year, and i was doing traditional crafts and arts and stuff like that.

what kind of art? very focused on ceramics. but i also did some wood carving, some batik. and i was doing a project with a friend of mine who i met there, doing trance dance performance. we collaborated with a music school to put very traditional music with more modern instruments like guitar, electric guitar, drums, synthesizer. he was the dancer, and for this performance i play the part of the shaman.

have you ever been in a trance? no.

how may languages do you speak? three, let’s say: greek, english, and indonesian.

and you’re gonna go back to indo, right? hopefully, yeah.

do you have a life plan or are you not really thinking about that? not really a specific plan. i would like, at some point, not to be a waitress anymore, and get a living from my art, but i have to work hard to do that, so we will see.

is it that you don’t want to work hard to do it? i want, but i find it hard to get the money that i can just live from that. i get some money from [selling] my art, but it’s not enough to make a living.

how do you sell your art? usually it’s from friends, or friends of a friend, or like that. i’ve sold paintings when i’ve had an exhibition, but yeah it’s not that easy, at least for me. maybe i’m doing something wrong.

do you try very hard at it or no? why not? no, not really. because if i want to focus 100%, i shouldn’t work as a waitress or whatever. i will either starve and make art, or work and make less art.

so you’d rather work and make less art? no. but i don’t want to ask money from my parents. i also want to travel, so i need a budget.

where are you traveling to next? now i’m going to morocco for a traditional wedding. and after that, i will try indonesia, or asia in general. i don’t know. maybe the US, we’ll see.

what’s your favorite place you’ve been to? indo.

why? i don’t know. i cannot explain. (laughs) i tell stories to the guys here, and they’re like, dude the way you describe i don’t want to go there. because i tell them it’s cloudy most of the time, there’s rain, its very muslim. the food, after a while you get bored, it’s just rice and something. but for me, it has this energy, and its so relaxed, and the people, they don’t really care for small things. like i feel in europe, we have this habit to complain for small stuff that we shouldn’t. there’s no point to waste time in your life to do this.

like what? like in greece, especially, we complain about everything.

sounds like america. yeah, i guess. it’s like western habit. there, it’s more relaxed. they just live for the day. i have the feeling that they don’t really care to risk their lives, like they drive 5 people on a motorbike, which is very dangerous, with their kids on top of them. like basic safety things, they don’t follow them.

do you find that good or bad or does that inspire you? it doesn’t inspire me, but i like this way of living. no stress, the landscape is amazing, it’s green everywhere. like i went around with a motorbike and i see the rice fields, and i feel so calm. in the big city, you don’t have this. the forest, the sounds, the smell there, it’s amazing.

here in antiparos reminds me a little bit of the beach at home, there are mountains and hills with houses on them, and then the the water is directly at the base. when i was there in indo, i missed a lot of things from greece: the sky the sea. there, if you want to swim, proper swimming, it’s not so easy to find a nice beach. but still i don’t’ know, i felt very comfortable there.

did you know you wanted to go there or did it just happen? no, i always wanted to visit indonesia, i don’t know why.

did you know anybody who had gone there? with the program i went for, there was another greek girl so we were doing the process together, but she was in a different city and i was just in sumatra in a small village alone.

ideally you want to make art for a living. do you think about the details in how to do that? no. like a plan to succeed? i mean, having a studio is the first step i should make, but it’s very expensive. i have to start in another studio maybe, find a place to sell art, blah blah blah, and i don’t know where i’m gonna stay/live.

i was gonna ask if you were going to do it here in greece. here, it’s convenient. in indo, i can’t stay unless i get married, let’s say.

did you have a boyfriend while you were there?

(laugh) boyfriend-boyfriend, no. but i have some good friends. i was not in love, for sure.

nobody that’s like your soulmate. mmm.. no.

do you believe in soulmates? yeah.

have you met a soulmate? many.

when you say soulmate what do you mean? this is very difficult.. when i feel a connection…

not just romantic. no. could be a friend for sure. i have very few close people in my life, and some of them yeah, you could say they’re my soulmates.

anybody here? (we look around.) yeah you could say. i don’t want to put names. (laughs) i mean, they could be. we will see.

how old are you? 30.

ah, you’re old like me! not old, come on. we are pipinakia. it’s like, a young woman or man, like if you have a very young boyfriend, we say you like pipinakia. the plural is pipinaki.

(laugh) going back to the art… yeah… why?

(laughs) why? why not or why? no, let’s go.

well, i was just thinking about my own—i was having this conversation with j. he was like, ‘it makes me so happy when you’re traveling, i feel connected – he travels a lot – like, you understand, like we’re living the same life.’ but for some reason i got offended, like ‘well i cant do this all the time, you know?’ and he’s like, ‘why not? this is what you’re meant to do: write, take pictures, travel, make art.’ but i have a job at home that’s kind of regular, and it made me think of how you were saying you don’t want to waitress, but you have to. it’s like, do i starve and do this? but then there’s a risk if i keep waitressing, for instance, and i make less art, then i could get sucked into that forever, so i feel like that’s — exactly. but for me, i said, this is the last year i do that.

ah. i was thinking that this morning. i need to give myself a year deadline. you never know what is going to happen, but i feel i am done.

so what is going to happen in a year? i want to travel a lot this year and then we will see. i’m gonna struggle probably, for sure. and see how it works.

so you won’t waitress anymore. no i don’t want to do that, i’m done.

what else would you do for work? or just focus on art? no, i have to focus. like in indonesia, i had the time and the money to focu,s and it felt so good. i was spending in the studio maybe 10 hours, 12 hours per day.

how did you sustain yourself? the first year, i had the scholarship, and then the other year i had some backup money, so i spent everything, but still i felt like i don’t care. i felt so good. i could focus and be there even though the facilities were really bad, but still, it was very refreshing for my creativity and everything.

how do you feel when you’re waitressing? you’re saying when you make art you feel refreshed; alternatively, how do you feel in your body or yourself when waitressing? i mean, sometimes i really like it cause you can meet very nice people. but this year, i was so tired. i’m tired to deal with all these people every day. i need some time for myself—just be silent, talk to no one.

yes! i kind of feel like that sometimes in life, i have to be like ‘hi!’ but i’d rather sit in my room or be by myself. yeah, you feel you have to be there.

from the beginning with you guys, i felt like i didn’t have to talk or be on. yeah yeah, exactly.

so that’s nice for me to hear that you feel that way too. for sure, like some days, you could say i’m a very rude waitress.

(laughs) i’m so glad you’re saying this. man, what can you do? especially in the place we work, when it’s packed and i have to go in 15 tables, and the guy’s doing 15 minutes to decide which cocktail he wants, i’m like, ‘okay i’ll be back, f- off.’

that’s so funny. j just told me, ‘sometimes you don’t realize you come off rude.’ no, i do realize! (laughs)

i don’t care. yeah, exactly.

i don’t feel like my purpose on earth is to be nice to people. or take your drink for 15 minutes.

(laughs) that is so funny. what do you do when it’s like that? nothing. i just go, and then go back when they’re ready. but in this job, i think you have to be like that, because, okay they are customers, but dude, you have to have some consciousness, like see what’s happening around you. with me, because i do this job, when i go to restaurants, if this guy is super busy, i will wait and see when he’s a little less busy to order a drink. i feel people should have some consciousness when they’re going in places.

i don’t know why they don’t. i think they’ve never done it. or i don’t know, like i had two jobs this summer. in the morning, i was a hostess in the restaurant at the beach house, have you been there?

no. and people were coming, the place was packed, i didn’t have even one stool for them, and they’re like ‘i know you can do something for us.’ and i was like, ‘what do you want me to go buy a table and bring it here for you?’ like what the f- you don’t see? it’s right in front of you, dude, have a look.

(laughs) we were talking about you wanting to be alone, but you’re here living with, how many people? now its 3. before it was 4, sometimes we were 6.

how does that work? this year because i was working so much, i didn’t really care because i was going home to sleep and that’s it. i didn’t spend any time there actually. if i had more time, i think sometimes i would be annoyed, probably with the fact that i don’t have time for myself. like even now when i have half an hour between jobs, i went in the room, i want to have a cigarette and just chill out. and if someone was there, i would ask for 15 minutes: don’t talk to me, i will be right with you.

that’s good you’re able to say that. of course. if not, its bad for yourself. these 15 minutes are very important.

when you’re in alone time, what do you do? meditate? what do you need when you’re recharging? i don’t really meditate, even though i should. when i’m alone in general, i make art or look at the ceiling or clean, when i’m in athens. i’m a freak, like, i clean a lot. i shouldn’t do that. sometimes i read books or take care of my plants. nothing, just sit there.

i like that. i do that, too, i like to just sit there. i smoke a lot when i’m alone.

ive been asking everybody this, how do you want to die? die? oh god. (laughs) uh, how i want to die… i would say from natural causes. and peacefully. but you never know what’s going to happen.

yeah that is ideal. i think that peaceful death is a very good death. because for me, you suffer through your whole life, and to have this moment to peacefully go away…

you feel like life is suffering? sometimes it is, and it’s nice because with this, you appreciate other things. when you suffer, you appreciate other stuff. now i’m reading a book called the tibetan book of the dead. it’s so interesting.

what are you learning? actually it’s a how-to, if you read this, you’re supposed to be ready for death, and after death, it says there’s a transition period 49 days between death and reincarnation. so it’s like a script to prepare you for this period.

i’ve heard of it. i need to get that book. it’s really interesting. i’m not done yet, so i don’t know if at the end it’s gonna be total bullshit, but so far it’s quite interesting.

(laughs) i guess that’s kind of like life isn’t it? yeah, but for me, the after death situation, i mean, no one knows what is happening actually, and not that this thing is gonna help you at the end, but it’s nice to have an idea. i’m not scared of death at all.

why? because it’s the way of life. it’s the circle of life. and i guess if you believe in reincarnation, something nice, you will progress, and you will continue at the end, so it shouldn’t be scary.

yes, it’s supposed to happen. for me, death is bad for the people that are around me. like i’m scared of dying around my close family and friends. this scares me.

have you had anybody close to you die? many people.

when you die peacefully, what and who do you want around you? no one.

anything? no. no one because, like it or not, at death it’s gonna cause pain to the others, so i don’t want to see them before i die being in this situation, you know what i mean?

that’s very selfless of you. is it?

yeah, i think that’s true love: you don’t want to cause suffering to the people you love, and if there’s any suffering then you don’t want to contribute to that, that’s true love. have you read thich nhat hanh’s true love? it’s a very simple book, but he says to ask others, ‘do you have enough space in your heart and all around you?’ and if you’re giving that to someone, if you’re making the person you love feel free in their heart then you’re truly loving them. but if they feel stifled or trapped in a way by you, then you’re not truly loving them, because you’re not freeing them. if that makes sense. i know what you mean.

so i think that’s what you’re saying when you don’t want anyone by you. yeah and for the situation for death, this is very important. i heard many stories when people are so attached with the person who is supposed to die, but they are not letting them, you know what i mean? a friend of my dad—he’s quite old—and his wife’s mom was in a bad situation, she was suffering, let’s say, and my dad was like, ‘you have to tell your wife she has to let go. she has to.’ and the guy talked with his wife—i don’t know what he said, but after a few days, the mother died. so this for me, this is what i want to avoid, like all these situations from the person who is almost dead and the surrounding people.

that’s very selfless, because a lot of people would say—and i feel like there’s a part of me that would want my loved ones there, like hold my hand cause i’m scared. no, no, no, i couldn’t do that.

that’s true love.

what would you want it to say on your tombstone? i will not have one, i think. but if i had one.. what it will say… nothing. (laughs). maybe have a drawing, something.

i love that! one of yours? or someone else’s? maybe someone else’s drawings about me. maybe all my family will do a small sketch about how they feel about me.

that’s beautiful. i like that. now maybe you’ll want a tombstone. do it!

what else? i don’t know, what else, what else?

is there anything? there’s so much to talk about. true.

but is there anything we haven’t covered that you’re like, why didn’t you ask me about this? i cannot say. (laughs) this is really hard already.

really? you’re doing so good! yeah, cause i find it difficult to sometimes express some things. you know what i mean? and i’m not really good with words.

i disagree. thank you. but yeah, this went really well actually, but usually i’m not like that.

how come? maybe it’s because of you. you make me feel comfortable.

thank you. maybe we’re soulmates. (laughs) yeah maybe! we will find out. so you believe in reincarnation?

i believe in … i believe we don’t just die. it’s energy. it’s never created or destroyed, just changes. i think that’s the same with us, we just change too, right? so we change, i don’t know into whatm if it’s another person or animal. maybe we’ve lived a million times. yeah, i believe that.

and we’ve been people and rocks and animals and the ocean and whatever, i don’t know. it’s crazy how there’s no way of knowing what happens after. like there’s no– yeah, but it’s romantic as well.

how? i mean, you have a connection with this thought that you’d know what’s happening, but you create, for me at least, i have created—i believe we die, and for sure there’s reincarnation, so it’s romantic because, i don’t know what i was before, and i don’t know what i’m going to be, and it’s like a love play.

or it’s like were getting clues into who we were, who we’re gonna be. yeah, it’s nice!

that’s interesting. do you have pictures of your art? yeah, some. i’m really bad with documenting my art or promoting it or anything.

why do you say you’re bad at promoting it? because i can’t.

how come? because people ask so many questions that i cannot answer, like why you did that? i don’t know dude, i just felt like that and i did it!

you can’t just say, ‘here, don’t ask questions, just look’? if you want to go to gallery to expose work, you have to make a statement and blah blah. this is bullshit for me.

(laughs) why? because when i create something, it’s very strong emotions that are expressed through the art work, so when it’s done, i feel like i cant really explain to you how and why. it’s like when you have a dream. can you really explain to someone a dream? the feeling you have? not really. not completely.

i often write my dreams down cause i have such crazy dream. i have a document that’s over 100 pages. i wanted to do that but i’m scared. i don’t know why.

i’m also a writer, so that’s my main art. i write things down. your main art is actually art making. true, true.

i can express through writing how you express through art. true. exactly, but when i try to write down a dream, i feel a little bit stupid after.

(laughs) i don’t know, because the image is so strong for me, and what i’m trying to put into words, it doesn’t really, its not the same level, so i’m kind of disappointed.

and you don’t feel that way about your art? it’s the same, if i’m going to put in words what i feel, what i think, i can’t. i cant. or it’s gonna be something fake, just to do it and just to be catchy. again, with me, i can’t do it. maybe someone else has to do it for me, or it’s gonna be nothing.

two things. it’s interesting that you have to make art and write about it, but you can write and you don’t have to make art about it. and two, oh f- i forgot. what was the last thing you said? oh about you having to make it up. and that’s not you. are you talking kind of about how everyone is kind of fake? in the art world? for sure.

tell me more. (laughs)

maybe not fake, because i’m thinking about social media, for instance, i find that people can be so fake. i don’t know how it is here. you know what? i had the idea to make an instagram account, like a travel blog, let’s say, but show the actual f-ing thing. no filters. if there’s garbage on the beach, you will see everything. because i follow all these travel bloggers, everything’s so beautiful. they go to bali very often and i see the places, and i’ve been there and it’s nothing like the photos they present, and i’m like dude, what the f-?. so it is kind of fake, yeah. i would like to see exactly what im gonna–

what if you show a picture of trash but there’s more to it than the trash? yeah you will show the whole thing, you know. like, i will show you this beach is really dirty, but the place is f-ing amazing.

do you struggle with that in your life at all? or no? what, fakeness?

yeah. struggle, no.

maybe not ‘struggle,’ but… i’m trying to be, as a person, quite honest. and sometimes people really think i’m a bitch or.. but i cant do it. or i will say what i really think, or i will not say anything.

yeah. and i think many times people can understand my emotions from the way i interact with them, probably. so yeah, should be like that with art as well, or the way you represent the art. like in greece, at least, there’s this circle of artists and they’re doing this, and for me this is too fake. the point of art, at least for me, is expressing something. it’s not about making art to sell it or make an amazing gallery opening exhibition or whatever.

but when you express it, what happens to the art? then it can be destroyed. (laughs) like a lot of my ceramics, especially, they’re destroyed.

so you don’t have any attachment? i mean, i was sad.

why did you destroy it? it wasn’t me, it was the oven.

oh. or yeah, me sometimes, i didn’t pack it properly so it broke.

ah, so not on purpose. yeah. but i don’t really take care of my artwork. actually i’m not like, no you have to be [precious about it].

that’s nice. it should have a circle as well. if it’s going to be destroyed, it’s going to be destroyed, what can we do? i like to see the time passing by through the art piece. the age. like if you find this ecological site, they’re so beautiful, what’s left. for me, its amazing.

you’re a true artist. i’m not sure about that. (laughs)

i think so. like my art, as well, it’s kind of primitive, let’s say. i don’t like to be perfect. i don’t like perfection.

same. and we shouldn’t try for perfection. for me, perfection is nature. i don’t like to try and like, how you say, imitate. i like to express my point of view through what i feel about all these amazing things. and now i’m really glad i started doing ceramics because the clay is so nice. i feel like, i don’t know, like god creating something.

yes, making things. the last exhibition i had, i didn’t even want to put a glaze even though it’s so nice if you make a product to put glaze and make it shiny or whatever. but i made these pieces and i just left them like that. baked them, and left them, and it felt so nice. i felt because it was inspired by indonesia, let’s say, i felt like this is what it has to be. nothing more, nothing less.

do you have a desire to share your art with the world? not really.

why? share with the world in which way?

like a website or something. i don’t have. i have an instagram page [@_.nephele._]. it’s really bad. not all of my work is there. i update it once every 5 months. so my ideal way of showing my work would be either in a very nice space. not a gallery.

like it happens to be bought by someone? no, like i could find an abandoned building, and i imagine there should be this and that. or even outside somewhere, that for me is ideal. but a gallery? i don’t like this perfection. if you go to a gallery, you know you have to put it ‘like this.’ f- off. i made it, i want to show it off the way i  imagine it.

for me, i have fear. showing your work?

yeah. why?

because, i don’t know, i don’t want to hear – everyone i show anything to is like, oh that’s great. i think i’m scared of the person who’s gonna be like, that sucks. yeah but when people tell me my work sucks, okay.

i know the second it happens, i’m gonna be like, i don’t care. do you feel like–

fear of the unknown, fear of death. related to that, somehow. yeah, yeah, yeah. for me, that’s why i’m really bad with promoting my work, because i don’t really care what these posh people are gonna say. i care more about your opinion, someone who is in the gallery or whatever. but for me, i feel like promoting my artwork is like working in the business field or whatever. it’s something different. i have to ben artist and a manager and a market promoter. why should it be like that?

i don’t know. i’m trying to figure everything out myself. and thats why i really like indonesia because young people, they are so creative and they would make exhibitions not for selling, just wanted to have it. ‘okay let’s do it tomorrow.’

not to sell. if someone buys, okay they will be happy, but a lot of street art and performance. they really have the urge to express through these things.

for the sake of expression. yeah. and i really like that and they’re very positive, like okay, yeah, you have this idea, let’s do this! no second thoughts, no maybe. no. let’s do it.

i like that. and it doesn’t have to be perfect. just put it out there. yeah.

i think i need to start doing that in my life. start now.

okay, yes. any closing remarks? i don’t know. you say something. bye! have a good day! (laughs)

ps. we found out that we are soulmates.


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