Filip Ćustić works across photography, performance and video to address themes around identity, body and our relationship with technology. Mirrors and screens are recurring features, a reference to our age of image-obsession and selfies, and Ćustić also uses symbols, references to science, and art-historical borrowings in his art. The artist focuses his work on the crossover between technology and the body, talking about identity and how technological objects can help us celebrate the diversity of identities of human beings.
Filip Ćustić is the artist behind the album visuals for Rosalía’s El Mal Querer and Lil Nas’s US No 1 hit, MONTERO (Call me by your name). He also has worked for Spanish fashion designer, Palomo Spain.
Filip presented in April his first solo show in Japan: human product. The multidisciplinary exhibition expressed the essence of his artistic practice through a variety of different artworks, from prints to wearables, installation and performance, some of them commissioned especially for the occasion. Since the start of his career, Filip has explored the relationship between our body, mind, and technology, and how these three elements interact to shape our identity. human product was on display at PARCO Museum Tokyo from April 7th to 24th in which the artist investigated human existence and our ability to update ourselves almost like an operating system (OS) while examining our tendency to create complex systems that give meaning to our lives. Capitalist culture triggers the artist’s imagination for this show, which opens a conversation focused on how consumerist culture attempts to turn us into “commodities” while proposing that our existence is more valid if it can be monetised.
In human product ‘’I want to reflect on our tendency to become a sort of commodities that we update from time to time, under this self-imposed idea of being profitable”, Filip Ćustić explained.
Through this display, the artist raised pertinent questions about the world we inhabit while examining the self-imposed social models we respond to by looking at the way our identities and bodies are shaped by technology.
Hi Filip, welcome to RED EYE, you were born in Santa Cruz de Tenerife to Croatian parents from Kornić who fled to Spain during the Croatian War of Independence,how did this experience shape what you are today?
I've always had the idea of being able to live in your country by starting over in another place. And that's why I think that's why I always had in mind. I'm able to live in different places. I think that's a nice learning that my parents gave me. But the reason they did that was because of the work. But for me, it's more like a genuine starting over in another place.
Share with us a few highlights about your background as a child. When was your first approach to the human body’s research and what influenced your path to explore more your own body as performance art? How did Filip Ćustić emerge?
I have this memory from when I was a kid that I have always liked to do puzzles and play with playmobil, because I have always liked the idea of building and playing with the idea of construction.
All the information I have received over the years have served me to arrive at the creative conclusion that I need to create showing beauty as it is, earthly beauty, beauty without filters, virtual beauty, beauty that, even if it is told through technology, is raw beauty.
Surreal rituals and physical acts of intimacy merge in your regenerative practice installations. How do you think art as a form of meditation can have an impact on the human body or mind?
Speaking of my work, my wish is that people experience with their eyes things they have never experienced before and invite them to reflect on it. I would like the show to open their minds, so they can think out of the box. I just basically want people to experience new paradigms, new situations, so we can think outside of the “human programming”.
How do you choose your mediums to explore the human body’s relationship to physical reality? Walk us through your process research for a specific
performance a little bit when it comes to developing an idea.
I used to express myself exclusively photographically, but a couple of years ago I began to diversify the media through which I communicated the idea. I started to play with sculpture, to materialize also in video, or to play with more virtual ideas such as filters, etc. Then there was a moment when I felt I had no more past to look at. Then I was in the present and already looking towards the future and I saw that the only differentiating element of our present was technology.
At that moment I felt that technology is the only innovative element of our era and that for me it is an infinite medium, with a surprise factor.
How can loneliness be part of self-repair and growth? What about the connection between art and research being part of self-repair and growth?
Regarding loneliness, I think everything in life has to be balanced. You have to be lonely, but also with a companion, with other people because if you are extremely lonely, you also lose your mind. So balance is the key. I'm telling this from self experience that when you are extremely lonely you may come to conclusions that are not objectively correct.
The idea of connecting my learnings and psychology has been really organic because it's always been interesting to me those topics of the human mind. But the human mind still needs to be decoded to find out more about who we work for.
Speaking about environmental responsibility, how would you define the term “long-lasting” and how do ecosystems improve the healing of the human body?
Regarding environmental responsibility, maybe I'm very optimistic, but lately I've seen that new inventions always have in mind caring about the world and, like, cleaning the oceans and all of that. Of course, there's another polarity where people still destroy the world. But I think that as a projection in the future it wouldn't be as destructive as it is now.
How have your experiences with different artists changed your visions?
When I have worked with other artists, they have expanded my creativity and my vision. So the territory of creating is bigger, and I think that's very positive and inspiring. So, yeah, like the influence of other artists, not only death, but also being alive, always helps to expand your mental landscape.
Is there any abandoned work project that you would like to give a re-birth? How do you explore the needs of finding new ways of healing?
My work is a way of healing. A few years ago I decided to portray beauty wherever it is, raw and diverse beauty. To get out of the human programming to which we are subjected and with which we grow up. I use my art to get to know myself and to get out of that programming and, to the extent that I can, to help society think more openly, to get out of that programming and think outside the box.