We talked with K-MI about his inspirations and his commitment to the conditions of sexual workers in the world. He is trying to create awareness about all this unknown world through his powerful and touching pencil strokes. Read the following lines to know more about him and dive into his universe.
Airplane Mode : Can you tell us how you did you get into art ?
K-MI : Since my childhood, drawing is the best way I found to get away from every kind of conflicts and troubles. This really helped me stay calm and stay focused. Yes, this is the only way I found to learn how to stay focused.
A.M : Do you have any favorite art movements ?
K. : Actually, I’ve been really inspired by hyperrealism, but I’m currently more interested by what you could call “raw art”. I really like symbolism as well. To be honest, I’m not that interested by artistic movements. I mainly draw my inspiration from different cultures, ethnic groups and the way they live, what they wear and their traditions.
A.M : Where do you draw your inspiration from ?
K. : Currently, I’m really into tattoo. I don’t have any favorite subjects but I really like everything about nature and plants in general. Tribal arts and patterns are also very inspiring for me.
A.M : Can we say that your art is somehow introspective ?
K. : Well, I think I’m done with autoportraits. Back in the days, I did this a lot. This was a hard time you know where I had troubles to deal with my ego. So this idea came to my mind, and I believe that it could be interesting to see how I would draw myself. Nevertheless, I used a lot images warping to realize portraits at this time.
A.M : Do you like drawing on textiles ?
K. : I love drawing at the back of denim jackets. Indeed, we are living in an era where everybody is trying to be unique, that’s why I really like to customized clothes. Actually, it’s much more a hobby. I tried this out and enjoyed it so I’m just trying to do my things and see where it takes me.
A.M : What’s your most inspirational spot in Brussels ?
K. : The Soigne Forest, definetly. I have something with nature and tropical greehouses, that’s why I really like the Laeken greenhouse as well. Besides, I really like everything that is not directly linked to the Occidental world and all this spiritual spirit that nature has to offer. Nature helps me to channel my energy. Being alone in a forest makes me feel so alive and inspires me for my work.
A.M : Can you tell us more about the leather silhouette that you have created ? What does it stand for ? What message are you trying to convey ?
K. : At first, I just wanted to use scraps of leather to create a neutral silhouette that will represent the women in general. I was helped by many friends of mine who are seamstress to put together all the pieces of leather to create a patchwork. Of course, this silhouette is the way to pay tribute to all these women so as to give them the right to exist and brighten their days. Prostitution and human trafficking are something taboo in our society and often deny. I’m trying through different aspects of my work to denounce this modern slavery not only in Brussels or in Europe but everywhere. I’m really interested by the prostitution of children as well.
A.M : You are trying to convey a message through your work and denounce some aspects of our society. Do you think that as an artist, it’s important to be commited ?
K. : To be honnest, I don’t see myself as an artist and I hate this word and status. I consider myself as someone who has the chances to change things throught his work. I’m trying to affect as much people as I can. Moreover, as a human being, it’s important to commit yourself to something by all means. I grew up using something I love and master so this is a little bit like combine the pleasant and the useful. Well, I’m talking about Brussels because I’m living here for the moment.
I’m trying to raise awarness among people not only here, but in the world in general because in Occident we have an inclination towards being navel-gazing. It’s a way to alert people that what’s happening outside Europe is also happening here, in the heart of Europe. Actually, what I like the most is going to countries where all of this is happening, meet all the girls from different backgrounds and origins so as to understand why they’re doing this and how they manage to live with such a big burden.
A.M : Do you think drawing is a good way to shed some lights on this kind of issues ?
K. : In my opinion, drawing is the soft matter to bring up sensible issues. Our generation is mainly what I would defined as “visual”. We’re not reading anymore. We are just aware of what directly comes to us without the willing to know the reasons. So yes, even if my work can sometimes be “shocking” I’m looking for a reaction before anything else. For this reason, my work isn’t a form of provocation, nothing will make you feel uncomfortable for instance that’s why I’m trying to use the symbolic of things.
A.M : So as a committed artist, you are working with an association whose aim is to help women. Can you tell us more about this partnership ?
I have always had a great interest for all the social matters. When I was younger, I had this need to take commitment to something important to me, something that will make me feel useful. I oriented myself toward this question of sexual workers and prostitution because it’s not common to help these women. We heard a lot about prostitution and here in Belgium prostitution is even legal, but have we ever tried to help them ? They are not prostituting themselves by choice but only because they have to survive.
I met a lot of girls from different countries and backgrounds. They all have different stories and they’re just like you and me. They are just trying to live a normal life and stay proud no matter what they’ve been through. With the association, we are trying to help them to get back to a regular life by finding training course, help them to get a place to live and so on. We just want to help these girl to find back the part of humanity they have lost. I want them to know that they are not alone.
A.M : The name of our association is Airplane Mode. It refers to these moments when you need to disconnect yourself from the world and do something that corresponds to you. When do you switch off to Airplane Mode ?
K. : I turn my phone off everytime I’m going outside for a walk. Being in airplane mode is a way to be grateful for what we have. Our generation is based on selfishness and the world is currently too materialistic. Furthermore, we are far from our fundamental values and we better stop being manipulated by the technology that is way too present in our lives.
By Bettina & Max