10 Minutes with Tiz Creel

Tiz Creel (1991) is an artist from Mexico City currently based in London. Her practice is influenced by play, spontaneity and gaming, as forms contingent on relations between people. In 2019 she completed an MFA in Fine Art at Goldsmiths University (London) as well as a residency at the School of Visual Arts in 2016 (New York), and she holds an undergraduate degree in Communications from Universidad Iberoamericana 2015 (Mexico City). She has exhibited in the United Kingdom with Arebyte (Homepage Art Fair, 2021), SEAGER (Touch Base, 2020); Harddisk Museum (Nevermind Today, 2020); Division of Labour (Soft Display, 2020); Pitt Studio (Heavy Duty Paper, 2020); Chalton Gallery (The Omen, 2020); Residency Gallery (The Correspondence, 2020) and Camden People’s Theatre (Robots, 2019) as well as internationally in Galerija Mocvara (Zagreb), <Ctrl + Shift> (Toronto), Parsec (Bolognia), Linea Festival & Ampudia Centre for Art and Technology (Ruvo di Puglia), The Museum of Non-Conformist Art (St. Petersburg), Museo Tamayo (Mexico City), Museo Nacional de Arte (Mexico City) and Museo Regional de Cholula (Puebla). Recent commissions include the London Mural Festival (2020), Deptford X Arts Festival (2019, Play-Co (2019), Knudepunkt (2019), Art Night & Time out (2018). 

Tiz was awarded by Tranzfusers 2020 & UK Game Fund to create a video game about philosophical concepts. She participated in the game design contest Fastaval (2020) for her Educational Board Game competition “Size the Power” co-created with Stuff by Bez. Lastly, she was Awarded the fund Conacyt 2019 for research projects to promote reading and writing as a social inclusion strategy with the University of Guadalajara (2019).

For this interview, Huma Kabakci asks Tiz Creel about her inspirations, her murals, her experience in moving to London, her nicest distraction during lockdown and more.

Space for autonomous Imagination (2019)
Inflatable installation 
(C) of Tiz Creel

So you are originally from Mexico, is it Mexico City? How long have you been living in London?

I have been in Deptford, London since Summer 2017. 

I moved in just two days before an earthquake that took place near Mexico City. Being in a new place, with no friends or acuteness, while my home city was destroyed, no one in London seemed to be aware that happened. I skimmed through the news receiving little to none information about the facts through British media. It was the first time I realised how irrelevant our tragedy was to the rest of the world. A tough start, but it gets more candid later on. 

I also learned that there are no earthquakes in London which is a relief. 

Space for autonomous Imagination (2019)
Inflatable installation (close up)
(C) of Tiz Creel

I must say, I love your animations on your Instagram and the use of colours in your work. Can you talk a bit about the meaning behind the use of certain colours or certain imagery in your murals?

Contrary to popular opinion, most of the choices regarding the colours of my work are arbitrary and visceral. There is no articulated reason that explains the aesthetics of my work. I was surprised in my first studio critiques of my master’s degree where my tutors fixated on the meaning of the colours I used, when I have never given it any importance myself. 

I consider art a subjective experience; I tend not to define my work too much beyond what is presented. The audience role is not to discover but to create the meaning of the artwork – whatever form it might take. The viewers challenge the work; this encounter is important for the work sense of itself. 

Imagery is perhaps more thought through on specific occasions when I create the work with a particular intent or conceptual frame. The imagery always starts in a fictional space where everything and anything is possible. If you could get real life out of the way for a day to do whatever you want, what would you do? How would it be? Everything in life is source material with a minimal amount of imagination.

My work mirrors reality, but the world that is reflected is a world you can play with, a world that you can break. And the reality is a reflection of a game in a mirror with a certain amount of transfiguration. 

What is your preferred medium to work with (if you have one)?

I consider “play” as my primary medium. For me, play is the practice of becoming an ongoing exploration of the human experience. When we play, we engage fully with life and its contents to reach for the deepest truths of ordinary things and hopefully pursue greater respect and interest in the things around us. The more people open themselves, the more meaning they will find. Ultimately the meaning of the work comes into prominence when the individual’s imagination transforms the objects. To play, the viewers must take the artwork on its own terms, treat it as if its existence were reasonable. The stimulation is what triggers cognitive synergy. 

What has been your biggest but nicest distraction during the pandemic?

I often go to play basketball in one of my nearby courts. I started to learn with youtube videos after my gym was closed a year ago. I also try to imitate the moves that other people are doing while I attempt not to be awkward. 

I took advantage of all the cancellations and postponed work and events in March 2020 to spend time learning to code and advanced digital skills. I have been waiting to dig into the digital world for years but could not find the time. Unexpectedly the time came with many struggles, but I was able to use that to develop skills. I have also started developing a board game about emotions and many little personal projects like writing and recording some rap music, but I am not sure if I will ever share that with the world. 

Ultimately, I find joy in creating art just because. Where there is no expectation, no deadline, no frame, or any other limitation, this is the main reason I remain standing after all this time. 

If you could choose to be any other living species in this world, what would it be? 

It would be Grass.

I find it riveting how grass can grow after extreme conditions like fire or snow. Grass can grow in concrete, appearing on the sidewalks, buildings, and roads worldwide. Although each grass is individual, grasses operate as a whole; together, grass is found in any part of the world. People might not give great importance to grass, but they are invaluable assets to our planet and its inhabitants.

Fun fact: bamboo is the largest variety of grass.

What are you reading or watching at the moment? 

Documentaries are always the way to go. The last one was about Glafira Rosales, a con artist who infiltrated the art world and sold fake paintings for millions. I also started re-watching b-series horror films like the ice cream man, dead sushi, and the attack of the killer tomatoes. 

Due to a few eminent learning disabilities, I usually do not read for entertainment. I do read articles, research papers and essays to enrich my practice and opinions, but it does require a lot of effort and time. Currently, I am focusing on machine learning and creativity. 

False poet (2021)
Screenshot of online chatbot interactive experience 
(C) Tiz Creel

Do you have any exciting projects coming up?

Between other things that might, or might never happen.

I was selected by the Goethe-Institut for the Generation A=Algorithm Residency Programme that will take place in Fablab Torino, Italy. Also, I will generate a digital environment space where people can meet and interact for the annual show “Now play this! 2021”. Lastly, I will build an interactive installation for the Brainchild Festival 2021.