A conversation with Dorota Buczkowska – the artist who manages to combine a variety of forms and techniques (video, installation, graphics, photography and drawing) to create a coherent narration. She is specifically interested in the spheres of corporeality, repetitiveness and ambiguous contexts in which culture and nature overlap. Our conversation took place right before the artist’s exhibitions at Trafo in Szczecin and at Starter Gallery in Warsaw. We talked about the preparations, matter, form and touch…
Zofia Maria Cielątkowska: Video, drawing, installations, painting, sculpture… You seem to make use of all the art forms available, you combine various techniques. Which of these is your favourite art form? Looking back at your artistic activity, could you tell us something more about the reasons for using different art forms?
Dorota Buczkowska: This apparent variety is in fact a coherent, harmonious whole – that’s how I perceive it. The choice of a given material is rather an instinctive one for me. It is closely connected with the nature of a given project, as well as with gestures and intuition. The fact that intuition and feelings change and evolve through time is quite natural. At the moment, I am probably most fond of working with colours.
ZMC: What about photography? Do you sometimes cooperate with Przemek Dzienis?
DB: I perceive photography as a really interesting medium, because it allows me to take a look at my works from a totally different perspective. Usually, my work is an ongoing process with continuous variability, whereas photography records a clear picture, which allows to capture a distinct moment. It provides me with a valuable perspective, a specific kind of visual sensation.
ZMC: I have the impression that in your earlier artworks, a purity in conceptual and visual sense is maintained – I would like to mention quite distinctive works when it comes to the form used, such as Interror (2008), Entre l’état de la materie (2008), Love letters (2009) and your video works, created not so long ago. On the other hand – as you have already mentioned – you currently experiment with colours and there is much more ambiguity noticeable in your works.
DB: The works you mentioned – Interror, Love letters and A see-saw are the projects where a clear concept came first, only to be realized afterwards. Ambiguity starts when the whole process of creation is spontaneous and when I rely on intuition. I started to work in this way three years ago and this style of work evoked the immense need for colours. Painting and drawing with cosmetics helped me develop trust in the actions which follow my feelings, rather than intellect.
ZMC: By the way, what about drawing with cosmetics? How did you come up with this idea?
DB: The idea was born of my need for touch. At that time I had makeup cosmetics in intense colours at home. I couldn’t imagine myself wearing them, however, these vibrant colours seemed really appealing for me. I made an attempt to draw something with them. Usually makeup cosmetics change shades in a different light, therefore they create a great effect on paper. A ground resembles leather after applying lipstick on it, it absorbs cosmetic grease; there are semi-transparent spots, see-through parts and my artwork becomes richer than I could have imagined beforehand…
ZMC: How would you describe form and matter?
DB: I can probably describe them only as parts of the process of creation. At the beginning, there is matter – its characteristics, limitations, nature. These features send an important message to me, the message closely connected with the specific concept. That is why I usually start the process of creation from the matter. Very often, before I even begin my work, I instinctively follow some specific material which, after a number of experiments, directs me to the right track. Such method activates my senses, which are followed by attention and intellect. The type and characteristics of a given material – its durability, warmth, texture – are immensely important for me. When I feel that a given material corresponds with some inner part of me I know that I have found what I have been looking for – even if I am not able to name it. The form of numerous works alters when they are displayed publicly. These changes can be different in nature; sometimes they are provoked by the presence of the audience, sometimes they result from atmospheric changes, physical processes or a natural destruction of the material… I am continuously intrigued by this moment during transformation, which is so difficult to define and describe. Drawings made with cosmetics develop through months due to grease – the spots assume different shapes, grow. Paraffin floor crushes and is trampled down. There is a beginning and an end of an artwork, between this beginning and the end there is a process. When it comes to some of my works, I sort of let them die naturally. I treat the works which are destructed when displayed as a happening. In fact, I like the authenticity of such situation. There is always a documentation of the projects which “leave me”.
ZMC: What are your inspirations?
DB: Recently, I have been trying to rely on my intuition a little bit more – the mind is rather imitative. The mind participates in my work mainly by choosing the method, finding appropriate solutions to apply, inventing the title. Spontaneous work is much more satisfactory for me. Undoubtedly, my privacy is a source of inspiration, but what I choose to display is never literal – more often I use symbols. An artwork expresses tensions and intense emotions. My artistic work matures and changes alongside what is happening in my life – thus, it constitutes a part of my daily life.
ZMC: What are you working on at the moment and what are your plans for 2014?
DB: I am currently working on the project which is going to be displayed in the second half of February in Starter gallery in Warsaw. The title of this project is I return to the river bank [ed. vernissage on 22 February 2014, exhibition open to the public till 21 March]. The project is also a preview of a big exhibition, which is going to be organised in the autumn in BWA in Tarnów and in Katowice. I am also finishing my preparations for the exhibition entitled Apnea in Trafo in Szczecin [ed. vernissage on 14 February 2014]. What is more, I co-organise (with João Vilhena and Fabien Granet) and participate in a collective, international drawing project, which is based on drawing correspondence exchanged by more than ten artists.
ZMC: That seems like a lot of work! Good luck!
DB: It is indeed… Thank you.
Interviewed by Zofia Maria Cielątkowska Translated by Joanna Pietrak Edited by Contemporary Lynx
Dorota Buczkowska (born in 1971). She was a student in the class of prof. Grzegorz Kowalski at the Faculty of Sculpture of The Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw (1999-2003). She also studied at the Faculty of Conservation and Restoration of Works of Art at the same academy (1991-1998). She is also a graduate of Gender Studies at the University of Warsaw (1998-1999). In 2002 and 2003 she served her internship in the prestigious Centre National des Arts Plastiques Villa Arson in Nice, France. She lives and works in Warsaw.
Dorota Buczkowska uses different means of expression: drawing, graphics, painting, photography, installations, sculpture and videos. In her works, she often looks into the subjects of corporeality perception, physiology and biology of the human body, which she depicts in a metaphorical way, sometimes tinged with surrealism and poetic subtlety. Her video clips are usually the result of her careful observations of the surrounding reality, which are then transferred into motion pictures which content is mysterious and difficult to describe.
Zofia Maria Cielątkowska
Philosopher (Doctor of Arts – Philosophy at the Jagiellonian University), editor, art critic, admirer of contemporary theatre and its ambiguous contexts