For Lodown's Black Is Beautiful Zine No.25
There’s probably just a handful of creative people on this planet where fellow artists, fans and envier alike actually come to terms and agree on the fact that there’s simply nothing negative to say about them, really. And that’s not necessarily because these particular artists reached an unexpected consensus on their work, but because they’re upright, gifted, elaborate, loyal, of great talent, eloquent and impossible to pigeonhole. And Melbourne-based multidisciplinary artist Misha Hollenbach is just that. As one half of clothing label - and publishing house - PAM he enriches our lives with twisted ideas and (calculated) chaos, while his work in collages, sculpture, screen printing and whatnot more than often shine through their DIY-aesthetic and reflections on pop culture and ancient cultures.
Lodown is very proud to have him on board to host the 25th edition of our “Black Is Beautiful“ section.
Misha, I somehow find it almost paradoxical that you seem to be omnipresent yet strangely under the radar at the same time...
Magic happens. And air is free. Freedom means not being bound by anything, meaning that I'd prefer to roam, than to find a home… read: label, category, position. If you are everywhere at the same time, no one can track you down!
You might be known best to the public as one half of PAM, which you've run for over a decade now with your wife Shauna. In which way would you say has the brand evolved over this period of time… in which way did the challenges you’re facing change, now that PAM has established itself as a well known company?
PAM is a life Shauna and I have. It's a means and a meaning. What started as a 2 person graffiti piece, remains the same. We are having fun, scribbling, using color, positive vibes, vandalism, all in the spirit of living and life. Business has its challenges, which we never really face, it's not the motivation. Creativity, fun, sharing, community, drive PAM… this is the 'company line'. And lines, of course, were meant to be stepped over.
The collections of PAM very often work with certain topics… how do you decide on these? Is it more of an impulse thing or is there a lot of research involved?
Time and place. The themes are often coming from the same place: psychedelics, alternative thinking, ancient wisdom, star gazing, etc. These themes are integral to a way of life, and although we don't feel the need to mimic the concepts and outcomes, we prefer to tap into the energy and messages integral and often central to such themes. Impulse is absolutely important, details are nice, but it's the feeling that counts for us. Feelings are much stronger than words.
Your work is basically always reflecting on things that are close to your heart: music, fashion, sub-cultures, friendship, alternative spaces and a certain kind of escapism. I was wondering if you find the time these days to actually do stuff for yourself - you know, driven by a stream of conscious - or if it is mainly connected and conducted by projects and collaborations you agreed on?
Each day starts and ends and fills with these ideals. Music is def a key. Cycling, too. Alternate realities occur definitely each day: these can come from a pipe, or from a Czech children's book, a film, or a piece of music. Anything that transports you to another place. Saying that, our immediate surroundings are real and perfect anyhow, family, home... these places are sacred. The real world doesn’t enter there: no TV, radio, newspapers, I don’t open bills there. My art practice is actually completely spontaneous, too. Whenever I get a chance something happens. Nothing is planned. Of course, it is informed by what has already happened and extraneous thought, but I am trying to do things which are instantaneous, part of the moment. This is very exciting.
You illustrate, you do collages, screen-printing, you sculpt, you’re into photography and film… is there a technique you would always prefer over another?
No. Everything is fun. Actually I prefer if things happen quickly, working on things becomes laborious, obviously. I love the harnessing of an instant energy. Collages that happen by themselves are the most exciting. The way paint drips or splats, what happens when you accidentally film in your pocket. These outcomes are my favourite, magic happens, it's not practiced. That type of magic is an illusion. It’s not real.
Music always was an integral part of you… do you still deejay a lot these days? Do you actually still show up with a big case of vinyl or with an USB stick? Are the PAM mixes still running?
DJing rules. You get to go out, get wasted for free, have security - DJ booth - private areas, guest lists, and make people dance and have fun. DJing is super great. I tried to use a USB… actually I just told Axel from Pachanga the story over breakfast this morning, their “Black Naga“ song only came on digi, and although I only ever played vinyl - because this is the way I prefer my music, and how I've always collected it - I wanted to play this song, so I copied my first and only track to USB, 'the torch' for my future of djing! Well, I lost the USB the same night. PAM mixes still coming: in the works Kenji Takimi, Ron Morelli, Lee Douglas (which reminds me!).
I was actually wondering if 'The Changes' is still active? Or was the “geographical position“ of the members upsetting plans for this project?
Still alive! Changes is meant to happen when we get together. Soon!
In addition to that: would you say that having a personal connection to the people involved in certain projects is the most important thing to you in order to collaborate?
Absolutely yes! But the personal connection can come later, too. But for it to work, our brains need to sync. Most of the time this has been the case, and so, so wonderful. Collabs are a special way to make things. Ego is lost. The collab becomes about the journey, the experience. The outcome is merely the souvenir. Spending time with someone, especially in a creative way is a wonderful experience. Thomas Bullock is great, Fergus, Skatething, Kostas, Chris Johanson, even James Jarvis (!), Ben Sansbury, Peter Sutherland… all such fantastic experiences, and such rewarding times. And also great outcomes. And of course the greatest collab of my life: Shauna! We have PAM together, our life together, and Odette. OMG!
Would you say that even after all these years there’s a big difference how your work - or what you’ve achieved with PAM - is perceived in different parts of the world? Do you have the same standing/reputation in Melbourne than let’s say in Tokyo or London?
No. PAM isn’t about a place. Or a trend, or a localized experience. The feelings are bigger than boundaries, wider than locales or cliques. People are ultimately the same all over the world, and this 'human' condition is what we are tapping into. It transcends what's cool or happening right now in Berlin, or NYC, or London, or Copenhagen, or Melbourne. What we are part of is age old, and ages to come, the energy that defines 'life' and what it is to be human. Being a part of a living creative environment, sharing and building, and acknowledging and identifying what it is that enriches and elevates us. Pretty heavy words for somebody who makes clothes, but we can all help in our own little way. A zine, an instagram picture, whatever can be a powerful helpful force.
So what’s on your menu for the rest of 2013?
More of the same. Peter Sutherland and I are doing more work together, a show in Paris, and a book, then a book and collab with Berlin-based Mathew Hale, more PAM stuff, a doc about visionary French electronic music composer Ariel Kalma, paintings, more km's on bike, kisses for Shauna, fun/dance/art with Odette. Oh, and more Seppia Nero. Yummmmm!