Insight: Alex Nikolov & Emmy Koski from Loom Festival
Loom festival is an interdisciplinary arts festival based in Barcelona taking place on May 4, 2019, at Utopia 126. Behind Loom festival are Loom collective, an artistic collective founded by Alex Nikolov in 2016 with a group of friends and IED alumni to deal with current social and cultural topics through art. Loom [festival] is a representation of how a contemporary festival should approach the younger generations. With this in mind, their main aims behind the festival were ‘getting a strong message across that entertainment and festivals can be a space to go out of your comfort zone and clash with new ideologies and current topics through an artistic point of view. We always push ourselves and the artists and collaborators involved, so that they can also get out of their comfort zones by trying out something new,’ says Nikolov over Email.
‘Loom Collective is a group of young creatives involved in the arts, design and music scene of Barcelona. We are a group of friends that got together around the idea of creating a much-needed space to show that festivals can stand for new moral principles and have a voice in sociocultural topics. We are from all over the globe, from Ecuador to Italy, Algeria, Sweden… without forgetting our Spanish and Catalan members,’ continues Nikolov.
Loom Festival is an involving and interactive experience, the whole festival is designed in a path format, without separations between the artists, their pieces and the audience, without elevated stages and backstage areas. ‘We want the visitor to discover the diverse and talented local scene, and some international talents shaping the current underground,’ tells Nikolov.
Alex Nikolov has been involved with the music scene since a very young age. Music and art is part of his DNA; after graduating on Business Design, Events and Communication Design in IED Barcelona he worked on music festivals like DGTL and OFF Sónar to land, after three years, in RED58 and in Casa Bonay’s music hotspot Nica where he managed the PR and Communication department. Apart from Loom Festival Nikolov is working for festival company Primavera Sound where he is involved with PR, communication and content strategy. Barcelona is a city that has given birth to two of the most famous festivals worldwide: Sónar and Primavera Sound and the audience and viewers are demanding.
Spain is still recovering from the financial crisis of 2008 that led to deep budget cuts in arts programs, so the challenges of organising a grassroots art festival in Barcelona come to our minds. ‘The economic part – a topic we never really considered so much as Loom Festival is a collaborative DIY project, something that can connect to younger generations and new forms of creation, something that’s still hard to put together in terms of organisation and financing. We are lucky to be finding all of this support from everyone around us, Loom ends up being something everyone can find a way of being part of,’ Nikolov explains. And we can not help thinking about how Loom Festival will be financed and supported in the future when the festival grows up and maybe the DIY philosophy is not enough.
The [Loom] collective is presenting Loom by Day and Loom Cinema, two experiences running in parallel to the festival. Loom by Day is the free and educational part of their program while Loom Cinema will explore the new ways we perceive and build identities. Identities that are redefining by digital interfaces, augmented and altered realities. The topic of gender and identity will be explored at Loom by Day. The program for this year’s editions is inspired by the perceptual phenomenon synesthesia -a condition that allows people who develop it to perceive senses in a hybrid way. The line-up includes Col.lectiu VVAA, Samxsen and Spanish Mafia, Ikram Bouloum and Rubén Patiño, Moon Ribas, co-founder of the cyborg collective Transpecies Society, and Cristian Rizzuti.
Emmy Koski, apart of being one of the co-founders of the Loom collective and festival is the mind behind the art direction and design of this year’s edition of Loom festival, ‘an authentic image where we can feel represented, between thought, installations, performance and music – without any sort of creative restrictions or hierarchical structures’, in Koski’s words. With an editorial background, working mainly with communication and art direction for magazines and brands, before that, Koski worked in healthcare. So, maybe following her background in healthcare this year, the edition of Loom is dedicated to synesthesia, ‘a condition in which one sense is simultaneously perceived as if by one or more additional senses, which moves us to something that is more than just aesthetics and includes all our senses, Koski explains.
‘With the creative campaign, the idea was to explore, exaggerate and combine different senses to find an eclectic, yet coherent, image that expresses a multi-sensorial experience,’ she continues. A campaign and artwork that lies at the heart of photographer Maisie Cousins’ work and the glossy and wet aesthetics of the Dazed Beauty universe.
‘Loom is fleeing the obvious and stereotypic idea of what beauty can be. The main references are taken from very tactile textures, objects that can be considered both ugly and beautiful. But more than anything, evoke a feeling, a reaction. We played with everything to moulded bread and intestines in combination with glitter, flowers, liquids of all kinds to create a very organic image set in a digital world.’ Koski tells CLOT Magazine when we asked about her inspiration ‘what you taste is what you touch, what you hear is what you see and what you smell. The protagonist of the creative campaign is somehow a “newborn” exposed to the world, experiencing all the sense for the first time. This again is an exaggeration of what the visitors of Loom festival will experience – expanding perceptions and create an understanding of the world we live and create.’
‘I see Loom as a living organism that, at this very moment, is a festival. With the different personalities and skills, we all together inhabit, I see a lot of possibilities to grow and evolve, ‘ Koski concludes.