Text JF. Pierets Photos Jonas Lindström
You can call it ‘wearable sculpture’, if you really want to give it a name. Those who would like to look outside the box a bit might see an attractive work of art, dark yet extremely seductive. Whether he is a sculptor or a milliner, Rein Vollenga is a creative artist first and foremost, with a positive outlook on life and a healthy attitude towards success.
What triggers you to make such unique wearable sculpture headpieces?
From an early age, I love making objects and working with my hands. It surprises me and gives me satisfaction every day. This is the main reason why I create. My work is about fantasy and ambiguity and I hope to evoke something in the viewer’s mind that will trigger their imagination. Either good or bad.
From where do you draw your inspiration?
I collect objects in my immediate surroundings. I browse in supermarkets, party stores and I find things on the streets. I’m highly fascinated by objects that are mass-produced and have an organic or physical aesthetic like mannequins, packaging, car parts et cetera. Furthermore I’m interested in traditional craftsmanship. I love visiting museums of ancient, classical and primitive art. It’s great to see objects that have been made with love and dedication.
You moved to Berlin. How does the city influence your work?
I am very fortunate to live in a beautiful city full of history and art and to be surrounded by many creative an inspiring people like artists, musician performers and all kinds of free spirits. I have a lot of opportunities to experiment, collaborate and explore my creativity. Besides, as a gay man I don’t feel judged for my looks and sexuality. In Berlin I can be whoever I want to be.
You are an artist, also working in fashion. How do you combine those two?
There is no difference between the two in how I approach my work. The origin of my craft is sculpture. I just see art and fashion as different platforms to show my work. Because I don’t dismiss any platform, I can show my work in museums and galleries, in music videos, on the catwalk and on the internet. This gives me the opportunity to reach people who don’t visit the – sometimes bourgeois and elitist – galleries and museums. It makes my work available to everyone. As art should be.
I read in an interview that you find it very important to be true to yourself and others. Can you elaborate?
Just be dedicated to what you genuinely love to do in life, and don’t talk bullshit. It is hard to pursue a career in art. As a young artist you might not be appreciated immediately. My advice is to work hard. This will be rewarded in the long run. People love to make a lot of fuss about nothing these days. Check the celebrity pages for instance. People are famous for being famous. Isn’t that hollow and sad? I would rather be recognized and appreciated for what I do.
‘Be dedicated to what you genuinely love to do in life, and don’t talk bullshit. My advice is to work hard. This will be rewarded in the long run.’
On your website you have two different categories: ‘sculpture’ and ‘wearable’. Do ‘ordinary’ people actually wear your creations and who are your main customers?
Ordinary is not in my dictionary. I create unique pieces so I mainly work on special projects with fashion brands, performance artists and musicians.
Do you ever think of designing clothes?
Not really, but this might be something for the future. I can imagine a collaboration with a fashion house. To create some ready-to-wear limited editions in the future. I’m mainly interested in the theatrical part of fashion shows.
Your work has a dark, hedonistic and fetishistic feel to it. Is that your aim or just my imagination?
No, that is not my aim but just your naughty imagination I guess. But I think you refer to the slick and glossy finish of my works. I do understand what you mean with the dark hedonistic and fetishistic feel but this only implicates what fashion presumes a fetish to be. Here’s what the dictionary says: ‘any object or non-genital part of the body that causes a habitual erotic response or fixation.’
Your headpieces are – in my opinion – genderless. Is that a conscious choice?
Yes, I don’t create pieces for a specific gender. I create my objects as an extension of the human body.
You once said that you make a piece almost every day. Is this still the case and how do you keep up?
Yes I still do. I work on several projects a day. But since the making of a sculpture has many stages, there’s always something to do. It might sound obsessive but it all comes natural to me.
You had numerous collaborations with people like Mugler, Lady Gaga, Johnny Woo, etc. and you have been featured in Dazed and Confused, I-D, Interview and many other magazines. Any future dreams?
Yes! I would love to create stage designs and costumes for opera, ballet or contemporary dance in the future.
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