- Eva Petrič
Interview with Kyoko Sato
Installation for Bergdorf Goodman department store on 5th Avenue, New York. 2015
published on TagBoat http://www.tagboat.com/select/n_artist9.php
Kyoko Sato: How was it possible to achieve such an extensive amount of work completing 60 solo and 70 group exhibitions worldwide so far, even though you are still only in your 30s?
Eva Petric: For me, every waking minute is an unforgettable, and unique minute full of potential, full of life. But even though it is, more or less most often, lots of minutes that compose our lives, these minutes are minute and swiftly fading and completely unique. I perceive our time here on Earth as a very special and unique experience that should be lived as fully as possible and at the same time also reflected upon as fully as possible, in order to be aware and not take for granted what life offers us. Being most comfortable in the role of an artist, it is perhaps than no surprise that I have outbursts of ideas and the need to present them as exhibitions to then be able to also reflect upon them. I feel that life passes very quickly and if we feel the strong urge, felt as a wish through the emotion of yearning, that then we should pursue this feeling and materialize it through specific action. Perhaps this is why so many shows have added up in my CV, because I have many ideas and am inspired to work with the unique environment in which I am. Living in three places and having grown up in different continues and moving countries every two years has only helped in my wish to express my observations through art and more work and as well the wish to present them in the various and also authentic spaces, to learn how different contexts and spaces require different ways of placement of art. This is learned best through making exhibitions in the various different spaces, resulting also in my many exhibits, I suppose. Last but not least, perhaps it is my early training of classical ballet that continued through high school that helped to shape my need to bring into action my ideas and also to apply a type of discipline to make the ideas materialize. But in all honestly, I find myself looking around at other people in all various spheres of life and asking myself in awe, “ how did they possibly manage to achieve all this?”; so I do not feel at all like one of them!
Kyoko: When you were in your 20s in 2010, what were you expressing through this “One-way street” at the time?
Eva: “One-Way Street” was both a study of trying to combine different techniques of photography as well as representations of the human body, through both its shadow form as well as concrete body flesh form. By combining analog black and white and in the dark room developed photographs of my shadows with their so called opposite color digital staged images I created so called “visual aphorisms” which are the visual representation of what we say to usually be: ”stated between the lines”. By using my shadow and overlaying it onto of my color staged photographs I wanted to give my image more depth, both visually as well as in meaning. In visual terms, the shadow always creates depth, and brings about also a highlighted emotional level. The intention behind my “One-Way-Street” series was to give back the colorful staged images of body, their emotions, by concealing them with their darker shadow counterpart and in this way enable for viewers to remain longer with them, allowing for the emotions in them to begin to take place.
Kyoko: It looks you were doing a performance for the photography work. Why did you use yourself as a motif for the work?
Eva: For me the body, my body is the vehicle of perceiving this life and that I am alive in the first place as well as the medium for expression of my inner thoughts and feelings. For me it is my tool and medium of expression, and I feel that if I feel and express through my body, both inner and outer body, that I am then able to sustain a level of the genuine and authenticity which I feel is essential to art. This has also been my way since I can remember, as I attended ballet classes from the early age of three. Further, my body is for me a constant that has been with me, always, in all – ways faithful to me regardless of all the changing environments and circumstances when I was, as a young girl changing environments all the time, living in places like Ethiopia, India and then the USA and Argentina and Europe.
Kyoko: Who was the photographer? Where did you shoot them?
Eva: In my work my moto has always been, a one woman show! So it is me who poses in front of the camera, but also me who makes the photos click in the camera, and also the one who then develops them further in the dark room, if needed. Most of the images were taken in lower Austria country side or at famous points in Vienna such as the stone water fountains of the Hofburg palace (I wanted to choose some cliché like places and transform and look at them from a different angle through my photographs) while the shadows, (black and white analog images) were taking in my apartment in Vienna, on the various walls within it during the span of an entire year of photographing every single morning the ever changing sunlight.
Kyoko: Why did you choose acrylic glass instead of paper?
Eva: I feel that it is important to choose wisely when choosing the material which best represents the theme of the work one attempts to present. For me, acrylic glass, or plexi glass is fascinating, because it is closest in appearance to glass itself which fascinates me with its countless reflections. Glass fascinates me, mostly because of its fragility, but also because of the reflections it produces. Every time we look through a window we are interacting with glass, but also with our own inner selves staring back at us. What we see, how we see, depends on how we are feeling inside, underneath our visible skin. So glass is a kind of mediator between our inside private world and our outside public space. I work with this concept a lot in my photography, video, poetry, and installation.
Kyoko: Why did you choose these series for tagboat and Asian audiences?
Eva: I chose this series for the Japanese audience not just because of the particular title but also because of the theme and presence of the shadow overlaying the color images of body. I feel that if anywhere, this additional layer of the shadow representing emotions and removed psyche or so called “the space in between” can best be understood through Japanese culture not just because of the strong presence of shadows and the concept of “the other”, often represented by the theme of the shadow, but also because of the esthetic qualities of balance provided by the over layering of the shadow part to quiet down the color body part. Furthermore, I feel that if anywhere, it is in Japan that the motif of the shadow will be understood correctly, as something full of potential to still change, and to be uncovered and formed into something for us at that moment still unknown.
Kyoko: Your work “Collective Heart” installed at the sanctuary of the Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine in Harlem from February to June 2019, was very impressive. What was the theme?
Eva: At the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, I exhibited two site-specific works; my “Collective Heart” as well as my “Safety Blanket”. “Collective Heart” was based off of my taking part in a by-pass surgery at the Favaloro Foundtion Clinic in Buenos Aires, Argentina established by Dr. Rene Favaloro who performed the first coronary heart by-pass ever more than 50 years ago – the procedure that is helping millions of people to prolong the lives also now a days. For me this experience was really powerful. I experienced the human body as something so very durable and at the same time so fragile, but by all means unique. I was truly touched by this experience and wanted to translate it into material form also for others to hopefully experience. In 2016, I was commissioned to create a 36 ft piece by 19 ft piece for the high altar of Austria’s oldest and largest Cathedral’s, the St. Stephan’s Cathedral for the time of the Fasting time. For me this was a real honor and I felt I have to really place something that is worthy of being on the high altar and for me, this was the human heart, a Collective heart - which is one with no borders, but accepts each and every one of us and is the seat, both giver and keeper of emotions. In St. John the Divine Cathedral, the exhibition to which I was invited was a group exhibit with very good artists and the theme of “The Value of Sanctuary- building a house without walls”. I proposed this piece because to me, the inner world, the seat of our emotions, is our portable and universal sanctuary that is with us wherever we are and through all time, we just need to know how to access it.