marko svart is a swedish/finnish multi-artist and designer currently based in reykjavik, iceland.
his work range includes conceptual art, performance, fashion design, film and music.
he is also the founder and designer of the clothing & accessory brand and physical shop Svartbysvart.
svart is often working with themes of expressionism, catharsis, conflict ambivalence, ritualistic resistance and philosophies of death,
frequently using blood, bones and mental nature as materials in his art.
my goal is to be completely free in my work, never limiting myself to a certain style or medium.
I view my artistry as one whole existence, believing in the importance of personal, internal exploration as a creator and human.
art is inside the artist’s mind, and my expression should not be defined by rules or expectations.
of course i often come back to certain themes or techniques but when i start a project, i don’t want to think about it filtered through my “medium”.
i want my art to be unexpected and fluid, and i am refusing to sacrifice my being to find a “relatable” focus.
From a young age, i found comfort and integrity in art, using it to survive my childhood depressions and anxieties.
I come from a family with zero interest in art and I did struggle to be understood by people around me. Now as an adult however, I am grateful for it, since it gave me a total freedom to find my own voice, without any input from anyone. It endorsed me to think independently and become my own person, instead of relying on the norm.
At the age of 9, I begun attending dance classes and was actively making my own music at home, which gave a first foundation for my future career as an artist. The main activity during my early years was dance; ranging from street dance, to contemporary, to ballet etc.
In 2010, while attending more than 10 dance classes every week on top of my regular school studies, I suddenly felt a loss of interest for what had been the most primal part of my life for several years. The reasons varied, but often came down to the commercialization of the dance practices and a heavy depression creeping in.
During this time, I was also studying film-making and begun exploring various other art forms and mediums.
Those years I was a complete mess, but I consider them also to be the best of my life. It was then, during my depression, when I could fully immerse myself in my artistry. It was like nothing else mattered. I used to cut my wrists to make art in my room on the days when I refused to exit the world of my mind.
It was not easy though. In my most severe time, I was taken into a psychiatric hospital, which I quickly managed to talk my way out of, because I was terrified of not being able to continue making art.
For years to come, this emotional instability ruled my artistry until I met with korean artist Kyuri.
A new chapter with Kyuri
My life together with Kyuri is a whole story of its own, but a vital part of how my artistry changed during early adulthood. kyuri and i first met online and started off as penpals but we quickly developed a remarkably deep connection to eachother. We shared our most internal secrets and found mutual ground through art.
In 2014, Kyuri and I decided to meet in real life and chose Iceland as our sacred meeting ground.
We made an intricate plan for how our meeting should play out and our relationship was a peculiarly conceptual one.
Since the first time we talked online, we ventured on this conceptual journey. She was like a ghost, trapped in another world, desperately sending signals across the planet to feel togetherness with me. Before going to Iceland, I remember telling my friends that I was “off to meet the love of my life” even though we had never actually met. I just knew from the beginning that it would change my life forever to meet her. It was completely surreal and blurred the line between dream and reality.
After meeting in Iceland, Kyuri moved in with me in Stockholm but we struggled to express our emotions properly in reality. The conceptual nature of our relationship changed instead into a normality. Kyuri and I kept creating art individually and independently, as opposed to what we originally had envisioned.
During this time, I struggled to find the internal inspiration which I had previously relied on. Instead, I began looking outward, exploring more visual and conventional types of creativity.
I crafted and released my first fashion collection in 2015, focusing for the first time on appearance over substance.
Work and emotions fell into an ambivalence while I continued further on my road in clothes design, although desperately holding onto my conceptual artistry. This led to the beginning of my multimedia project Season of Melancholy, which consisted of clothing, film, performance and research, and became the first attempt to tie all of my mediums into a single concept. This new approach was satisfactory and set the basis for many of my works in the future. Throughout this period, I was also teaching regular dance classes which further stretched my creativity.
The year of turmoil.
In 2016, the personal life of me and Kyuri became somewhat turbulent, due to various mundane reasons regarding work, money, immigration issues, and emotional stress. After a severe panic attack, I became obsessed with mortality and was convinced that there was something physically wrong inside my brain. After numerous hospital visits and MRI’s, the conclusion was that I was simply haunted by my anxiety. This fact was first challenging to accept, but eventually turned into a mental comfort, like reuniting with an old friend after a long time.
I was again admitted to therapy and medication, and a willingness to organize my life emerged.
The process abrubtly ended however.
On a sunny day in July, Kyuri took her own life.
again, I was forced into reflections of life and death, something which I am still holding onto and exploring through my art.
when she passed, i decided to dedicate my life to making a full exhibition of her work and our life together. at first i naively thought this was something i could pull off within a year or so, but i quickly realized this is a project that would take a lifetime to finish. maybe even longer than that.
i guess it was a survival instinct too.
i had nothing else to live for, so i tightly embraced art as my lifeline, again.
as life lost meaning and the emptiness around me flourished i needed a massive change in my life. in february 2017 i decided to start over by moving to iceland.
i had managed to get some good contacts and quickly got integrated into the society. less than a month in, i also met momo, who would play a big role in my life for a long time.
iceland gave me a lot of inspiration (as it tends to do for any creator). while living in the isolated countryside during my first summer, i got back into making jewelry again.
i did actually manage to take a break from death and misery, and was quite enjoying the new, exciting surroundings.
for some years i kept creating mostly clothing and jewelry, but also tying it all into a bag of conceptual goodness. I brought my piece season of melancholy to the 2018 Design March, and launched another similarly intricate exhibition sprout consisting of clothing, concept works, texts and research about life cycles of plants.
i found comfort in handicraft and started again actively making clothes, jewelries and accessories under the name svartbysvart. i released a couple more collections and was regularly doing art markets and pop-ups. this was mostly thanks to momo, who kept pushing me to stay creative and reach out to an audience.
this eventually led to us opening the physical shop Svartbysvart in reykjavik 2019.
it has since then developed into a notable spot in the reykjavik shopping culture, and has been featured in several magazines and books in iceland and japan.
Svartbysvart became my main work. i am now running the shop and brand, still creating every single piece individually by hand. needless to say, working this way is very time consuming but it is the only way that i feel comfortable in working. i refuse to start production for my brand, since i feel like i would lose all my sincerity by doing so. If i didn’t make the item, what’s the point? clearly i am an artist and not a business man. i still view every “product” as a piece of my artistry.
i am currently trying to balance creating for the shop and doing the other work which i am passionate about.
i still have a lot to give. i hope you stick with me.