Iwona Rozbiewska | Artist talk
Iwona Rozbiewska, Untitled, 2018. Wood, acrylic paint, textiles and foam, 300 x 200 x 70 cm
7:30 – 9 pm
Public lecture by
Michel Ottens (MA)
Media Studies and Philosophy
at Utrecht University
Public lecture & Artist talk
Iwona Rozbiewska’s artistic research includes two different components, the first one being an exploration of the physical properties of a new material for artistic expression, whereas the second component is an inquiry into the application of surreal accents through estrangement in order to construct an affective experience. The first component sprouts from the desire to learn new techniques in order to use metal as an artistic medium. Already being experienced with wood and foam as media for her artistic expression, Iwona decided to research the material properties of metal during her residency, investigating the connection between material properties like hardness, shape, form, composition and density on the one hand, and the process of meaning making on the other hand.
The recognition of an object as being that specific object, is partially dependent on the meaning which we as a subject, project onto the object. Examples of this projection of meaning is the attribution of value, measured through an object’s usefulness to us, or the attribution of meaning through symbolism. Yet the attribution of meaning cannot be seen as solely dependent on the agency of the subject. Sometimes, for example as a result of its material properties, an object can in fact resist or escape a subject’s attempts to project meaning onto it, resulting in a strange liminality: the affective experience of simultaneous recognition and estrangement. It is exactly this liminality which is the topic of research in Iwona Rozbiewska’s experiments with the properties of her used materials: a search for this elusive border between matter and meaning.
An example of this research can be seen in Iwona’s work which was inspired by a wooden bath tub. The perception of usefulness connected to the object which most of us will recognize as a bathtub, is often measured along the criteria of its attributed purpose, in this case its ability to hold water so that the users can wash themselves. Therefore, our perception of usefulness as a bathtub, is at least partially dependent on its specific combination of material shapes, densities and hardness, which determines if the object is able to fulfill its purpose. By carefully altering, adapting, or even playing around with these properties – reshaping, distorting, enlarging, and tilting the surfaces of its original form – Iwona investigates the consequences of these changes to the process of attributing meaning and value.
Iwona Rozbiewska discusses the results of her artistic research during an artist talk at the finissage of The Tales That Follow, relating the resulting sculptures and the creative process to her ideas as an artist and to her art practice as a whole. The artist talk is introduced by guest speaker Michel Ottens, cultural scholar and lecturer at the University of Utrecht. Michel Ottens provides a brief contextual background to the work of Iwona Rozbiewska by relating it to object oriented ontology, reflecting on OOO as both a philosophical school as well as its influence on contemporary art, specifically the work of Rozbiewska.