I am excited to announce the first in a series of interviews to be posted on pivot blog. The 11 Question Interview Series will allow the Featured Artists’ at pivot art gallery to share their thoughts on art, work, and life in a way that can extend our understanding of the work and background of these remarkable artists.
Read on to learn more about what drives artist Rebecca Najdowski and visit pivotartgallery to see her featured portfolio.
"yellow cyan magenta" 2009
1. Could you give us a brief account of how you became interested in the arts?
As long as I can remember, I have been into crafting and creating. I grew up around the hand-made object – my dad is a silversmith and my mom is an avid folk art collector. At university I took an intro to photography course and was instantly hooked. By luck I attended the University of New Mexico which has an excellent photo program.
2. You work primarily in photography and video. What is it about these mediums specifically that you are drawn to? Do you work in other mediums? Are these labels accurate to your work?
Initially what drew me to photography was that stirring quality that Roland Barthes termed the “punctum”, which is that inexplicable sensation that can touch us when we experience a photograph. What continues to hold my interest is the history and the material. It’s a very dynamic medium that has had many iterations since its inception. I like that everyone has a relationship to photography in some way. Video was a natural evolution that allowed me to play with duration. Sculpture is also a part of my process. Some of my stop-motion video works are recordings of sculptural interventions and many of the photograms are derived partially from soft-sculptures. I have also begun to explore sculpture as the final expression of the piece. A recent piece is a mirrored box with electroluminescent wire that produces an infinity effect.
3. What is most satisfying to you about the creative process in general? Do you have a specific approach? How much time do you spend (daily? weekly?) working creatively?
There are moments in the process where there is an unmistakeable flow, as if your mind and hands are so in tune that it just happens. Some days are incredibly fun in the darkroom, when experimentation is high and I surprise myself at what is being created. My production varies greatly based on what is happening in my life – I work in fits and starts. When I am in a producing mode I work in a focused manner for about 5-6 hours and a few hours doing more organizational work like downloading and processing digital files. One or two days a week are darkroom designated.
4. You have written that you are “…investigating the concept of transformation and the difference, if there is one, between literal magic and the appearance of magic.” Can you help us understand a little more your thoughts on literal magic and the appearance of magic?
This notion of magic or the appearance of magic stems out of an interest in ambiguity and illusion. I like the idea that magic is in the eye of the beholder and its potency is dependent on the perspective of the observer. Magic occurs when there is a shift in consciousness and I think it’s important to recognize that the power to experience this comes from the viewer. To me it seem that literal magic and the appearance of magic are the same thing.
5. What is the most important thing that you want to learn through your work?
At the root of it all, I am trying to better understand my experience of the world. It is a way of creating and analyzing what is going on around and inside of me. It is a bit like a creation story that I am telling myself.
6. What is the most important thing you want viewers to come away form your work with?
Everybody experiences each artwork out there in the world differently, but I do have a hope that they respond with a sense of wonderment and that they may recognize an element of illusion. Which is important because when an artwork alludes to more than one thing I think it offers the possibility of experiencing multiple perspectives.
7. Do you have artistic/creative role models? If so, who are they and how do you relate to them?
My role models range from well-known artists like Olafur Ellasion and Bruce Conner and my artist friends to those relatively unknown gypsy / outsider folks that live their life as art. I am equally impressed by intellectual rigor and profound freedom.
8. How do you feel about contemporary art in the SF Bay area?
On a recent trip to New York City I realized that San Francisco artists hold their own, albeit in a more reserved way. What I did recognize is that San Francisco lacks strong institutional support of experimental art. What gets play here is a bit conservative.
9. How do you feel about contemporary art and the way it interacts with technology?
Sometimes I’m actually surprised at how little technology and art interact. Certainly digital photography and video are present, but they are an evolution of their analog parents. I haven’t experienced much art that seems to be about technology and how it has shifted the way we experience the world. I think the strongest interaction of art and technology is the access gained from the internet, there’s no denying the impact of experiencing instantaneous and time-based works from all different sources around the world, not just that which has been deemed valuable by institutions.
10. You are heading to Brazil on a Fulbright correct? What are your plans for making work there?
I will be based at an artist residency in Rio, Capacete, where I will make a body of work that will probably be video centered. It’s difficult for me to predict the content at this point, but I anticipate that I will look to the Tropicália movement that began in the late 1960’s Brazil which focused on the purposeful mixing of high and low, local and international, and contemporary and folk resources. There is something about the blurry boundaries of these that I find interesting. I’m also really fascinated by the hybrid spirituality that so common in Brazil. Part of my project will be collaborating with Rochina Arts and Cultural Institute in a favela of Rio. We are working on developing a roof garden as a youth-based community project.
11. Is there anything you would like to add to help us understand you and/or your work better?
Recently, I have been exploring the link between art-making and shamanism – specifically, the disruption of current logic. Shaman slip in and out of recognized boundaries or logics; art-making can function in the same way. Often processes are used to address what is unlike them – to make the familiar strange by using a new language. Working between logics is a way to participate in the possibilities of culture.