THE Q&A: SLINKACHU, ARTIST, MINIATURIST

The simplest way to describe Slinkachu is as a London-based artist who creates very small street-based installations and then photographs them: from far away and up-close.

He could also be described as a miniaturist. He modifies tiny human figurines from model train sets and places them in real urban situations, capturing them sight-seeing, camping, grocery shopping, fighting and dying. A tiny man in a suit holds a spent life-sized matchstick and gazes at his now scorched car (called "Company Car"). A miniature man holding a rifle, who has seemingly just shot a life-sized bee, says to his crouching daughter, "They're not pets, Susan." 

In contrast to the propaganda posters of Shepard Fairey or the subversive stencils of Banksy, Slinkachu's approach to street art is more subtle, more sensitive. You could easily walk right past one of Slinkachu's installations and not know it's there. His photographs are key: the close-ups make you feel like a participant, while the far-away shots leave you feeling like a spectator.

Slinkachu's other projects include Inner City Snail, in which he used non-toxic paint to graffiti on living snails and then photographed them traversing the urban sprawl. He released a limited edition Slinkachu skateboard this spring, and recently released a coffee-table book of his work, "Little People in the City", with a forward by Will Self (I first spotted the book in a North London boutique surrounded by "adventure" travel books and indie cookbooks). A German edition of the book was recently released, and a Dutch version comes out this autumn.

Slinkachu has created installations in Amsterdam, Barcelona, Manchester and Stavanger in Norway. He'll be creating more work in Rotterdam later this summer and in Italy in September. His blog has allegedly turned up on a site for miniature women fetishists.

West London's Andipa Gallery recently hosted Slinkachu's second solo show, "Whatever Happened to the Men of Tomorrow?", in which tiny superheroes are depicted grappling with old age. We met with Slinkachu the day after his show opened. Dressed in a T-shirt, skinny jeans and silver high-tops, he discussed the allure of making small art.

More Intelligent Life:  What was the main inspiration for "Whatever Happened to the Men of Tomorrow?"

Slinkachu:  I'm a big fan of comics, especially Chris Ware's. I can relate to him, because he's shy, like me. 'Men of Tomorrow' is based on Ware's superhero in "Jimmy Corrigan". But it's not really about superheroes, it's more about average guys and their problems and insecurities.

MIL:  Probably a question you hate, but why the name "Slinkachu?"

S:  It was an accident. It started out as the nickname "Slinky" because of my curly hair. I started designing characters for my friends, and then created a blog, and Slinkachu became my blog name.

MIL:  So how did your work develop into what we see today?

S:  I started buying hard plastic train set figures and modifying them. I scrape away the details with a tiny knife, using a magnifying glass. I change them, too. One guy who was riding a bike, I turned him into a superhero about to fly off a building. I've used old zoo figures from the '60s.

MIL:  Do you always leave your installations out in the street after you're done photographing them?

S:  Sometimes. I went back to one I did about five days later, and it was still there.

MIL:  "Little people doing things" seems to have endless possibilities. Do you plan to stick with it for a while?

S:  Well it has its limitations. I don't want to get to the point where I'm repeating myself or just putting little people on a rock and taking the picture. I want to build more, and play with scale more.

MIL:  Do you consider yourself a miniatures artist?

S: Not really. People send me links to other people who do miniatures, and people have sent me snow globes, but I'm not part of a miniatures scene or anything. I'm interested in little things, but not for miniatures' sake.

MIL: What do you think a big project of yours would look like?

S:  I do prefer small, so I'm not sure if my themes could work in a big way. I like my things to be melancholy, like loneliness, and people lost and alone. I don't know why. That's what I like in other media.

MIL:  Like what, or who?

S: Well, like Ben Folds, I like his storytelling. I like movies by David Lynch. I love the movie "Donnie Darko".

MIL:  What's next for you?

S:  Next year, I'm going back to the country. The themes will be the same, but outside of the city. It will be focused on those great British day trips. I'll pick rainy days and shoot. I don't really think of myself as a photographer, so I'd like to go off and do more street art.

~ GARY MOSKOWITZ

 

Picture credit: All work created and photographed by Slinkachu.