Izabela Tarasewicz is a visual artist who makes sculptures, installations, drawings and photographs, as well as a performance artist.
She was born in 1981 in Białystok. She is a member of Penerstwo, a Poznań-based art group on the forefront of the contemporary Polish scene. Shea also graduated from the Faculty of Sculpture and Space Activities at the University of Arts in Poznań.
In 2013, she was nominated for the Polityka Passport award – ‘for consistent growth and an absolute understanding of her mediums. For reminding us that ephemeral, inconspicuous objects, that she brings to life can open up new prospects for serious , universal narrations’, as Kamila Leśniak said. In 2015, she was nominated for the Views Deutsche Bank Foundation Award, that was organized by Zachęta – National Gallery of Art.
Tarasewicz works in a specific manner based on interpreting, cumulating, deconstructing and re-organizing material things as well as social, historical, and ideological systems. The artist carefully tests out simple materials and processes them. The created objects and their composition escape the contradistinction natural – artificial.
In her work, she employs basic materials like clay, plaster, concrete, gold, steel, glass, asphalt, animal fat, skin, leather, fur, intestines, plasticine, plant fibers, plant dust and ash.
Balancing on the verge of hylozoism (a philosophical point of view that all matter is in some sense alive), my art work serves as a temporary confluence of energy, places, time and ideas – taking on the character of the given events, that take place as a result of subsequent interactions.
– as she stated during an interview with Culture.pl.
Her main thematic area of focus is the human being, more precisely – the contemporary human being in an extreme or hazardous situation. In which, he has to balance between normality and extremity, humankind and dehumanization. Furthermore, the artist analyses the states of social pathology, mental illness, and of extreme pain and weariness.
Before I went to the faculty of sculpture, I studied medicine for a year. Classical sculpture was never my main point of reference. I was much more interested in experimenting with the material, creating new techniques, all strongly inspired by bio sciences. (…) At the beginning, I used animal tissue in my work – intestines, skin, meat. While working with a formulator, I managed to create a series of pieces that were to do with organics. Thanks to that, I was able to combine my interest in sculpture with my passion for the sciences.
– she said in an interview with Culture.pl
Iza Tarasewicz from Culture.pl on Vimeo.
One of her most important projects involving organic materials is Dirty Bomb. It involved a giant female figure made of lard, a wolf constructed from decaying pork, teddy bears made of fur, an infinity sign weaved from prepared pig intestines, and assorted ‘wounds’ made of pigs' bladders.
The subject of the organic pieces oscillates around corporeality, but it is not the posthumous kind. In my concept, using such materials does not lead to mortality. I use them as a means of connecting a greater range of themes, in order to say something vague, something we cannot substantiate.
The cycle Children and Animals stood out as somewhat unusual in terms of the artist’s aesthetic solutions. It consisted of the titular couples presented in intimate positions – embracing one another or maintaining intense eye contact. The sculptures were made out of snow-white salt dough, marked by a single red stain. The series was concerned with the mutual proximity of children and animals and their rudimentary way of living, incorporating cruelty, playfulness, and innocence. The seeming contrast of this piece, in fact completes her previous work.
There are extraordinary circumstances that are impossible to stipulate and evaluate – as the artist states. I call them ‘slippery’, because they escape our perception. We feel them much more, most often standing hopelessly, as if paralyzed, passively experiencing it.
On her first exhibition in Hungary in 2011 (Oneness in the Polish Institute in Budapest) apart from the statue Children and Animals, Tarasewicz presented Mother and Child, the item Connection and drawings from the series Hand made.
The artist herself says about her art:
(…) it speaks about the inability to draw a definite line, between playfulness and a situation of endangerment, between love and enslavement, between the oppressor and the victim. The art work introduces you to a tough world of moral rules and the difficulty you are faced with, when you find yourself in direct contact with an ambiguous situation. From this point of view, our dilemmas make us seem to be made from the SAME mold.
Zuzanna Hadryś described the artist’s style:
When creating her artworks, Tarasewicz references experiences from her childhood and adolescence, when she was living in a rural area near Białystok, a place where one was in primal and direct contact with nature, and it wasn’t necessary to conceal unaesthetic things. Iza’s endeavors are free from pretentiousness, and she still is the same girl ‘from that place’ who developed critical distance by moving away, and tools, thanks to her education – with these resources at hand she is able to describe ‘that’ world anew.
In an interview with Culture.pl she said:
During my residency in Georgia in 2011, I had a breakthrough. I decided to minimalize my resources even more. I became very interested with the term ‘the architecture of emptiness’, that was certainly a result of my distinct feeling of loneliness. Five months in another country was a powerful moment, that pushed me out of the familiar artist zone. Now I don’t necessarily feel like a sculptor. Instead, I sculpt the relationship between what I create and the audience.
It was the artist’s 2013 exhibition, Clinamen, at the Xawery Dunikowski Museum of Sculpture in Warsaw, that earned her a lot of attention among both the audience and critics. 'Surely this is not a regular exposition – it is rather something like Stonehenge: a cluster of unknown energy', wrote a reviewer for the online magazine Dwutygodnik.
For Clinamen, Tarasewicz teamed up with the Post Brothers to create a show in which the artist’s works were juxtaposed with objects retrieved from the storerooms of the National Museum. Tarasewicz’s sculptures, made out of clay, plaster, concrete, tar, gold, glass, ash, and animal intestines, were placed next to objects testifying to the local history of the Museum: Dunikowski’s spatulas, a fragment of an 18th-century sculptural decoration, and a post-war photograph of the ruined palace (in which the Museum of Sculpture is located). The artist’s works, presented in the context of archival objects, once again posed questions about the status of sculpture as an artistic discipline, and about its form, materiality, and the artist's role in the process of creative production.
I feel tired working by myself, that is why recently I’ve been concentrating more on collaborating with others, inviting them to work with me. The outcome of these collaborations were visible, for example, during the Clinamen exhibition in Królikarnia, during which, I worked with the curator and a soprano singer. As well as during the release of the album entitled ArtBazaarem. On the other hand, during my residency in Berlin I’m working with an Australian poet from Prague.
In 2013, the ArtBazaar Records label released the artist’s vinyl titled ύβρις ορατορίου / oratory of hubris / oratorium arogancji. It featured Tarasewicz’s experiments on sound, carried out in collaboration with the Soprano singer Małgorzata Trojanowska and a traditional ensemble from Białystok (members: Julita Charytoniuk, Paulina Herman, Małgorzata Kowalczuk, Małgorzata Linkiewicz, Ewa Zwierzyńska, Michał Zwierzyński, and Robert Piernikowski). In a note from the author she wrote:
vinyl as if carving a new object. Guiding this investigation was bare intuition rather than technical or musical capabilities.
skills, but rather
A new situation for Tarasewicz is analogue photography, for example, the Matrix series (2013), which are macroscopic photographs with a simple frame.
If I were to choose my most important work, it would be Oneness – a very quick sketch on cardboard. I brought this piece with me from Georgia. It is a very good representation of my passion for unity and the circulation of energy that bring on both positive and negative emotions, as well as experiences that shape us.
Tarasewicz has been on residencies in Art Villa Garikula in Georgia (2011) and in Air Laboratory, Centre for Contemporary Art, Ujazdowski Castle, Warsaw (2013). In the middle of 2013 she left for several months as a resident in Capacete Entretenimentos in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Last year, she became the first Polish artist to receive a scholarship for a yearly stay at Künstlerhaus Bethanien in Berlin. In 2015, she was on a residency in Syntax Project in Lisboa, Portugal.
Also in 2015, Tarasewicz was awarded the title of the most interesting artist of Polish young art scene, winning the first prize in the 6th edition of the Spojrzenia competition-Deutsche Bank Award, organized by the Zachęta, National Gallery of Art.
Kęstutis Kuizinas, the president of the jury, commented:
The jury gives the first prize to Iza Tarasewicz for her consistency in developing her own, mature and original artistic language; for exploring the materiality of original processes and for restoring the cognitive dimension in art.
At this exhibition Tarasewicz showed an installation called Turba, Turbo which deals with chaos theory. The artist reveals her inspirations in her notes as follows:
The project’s title was borrowed from a book by Michael Serra. TURBA, TURBO deals with turbulences, chaos, and the paradox inherent therein. The figure of chaos is, firstly, a model of order, and secondly, of disorder emerging from organised rhythms. Physics attempts to explain how things and the world were naturally formed out of atomic chaos and how orders result from disorders. My interventions in solid matter simulate a passion for distributing elements from a nebula full of things. Turbulences and collisions are temporary encounters of qualities. Constant change is a positive value, not a cause for fear. A huge machine like the LHC makes it possible to understand small things. The collisions effected in it allow us to imagine the ‘beginning’ of the universe. Iron-based dyes leave visible traces of their transmutations on a metal frame. Formed compositions drift towards dispersion, disintegration, because they are but temporary conjunctions. All everything returns to dust, void, where things don’t really work and where interaction doesn’t occur. It is only chaos that is a place for life. TURBA, TURBO is a place for a temporary demonstration of macro-chaos amid the regular structure of the hoop.
Turba, Turbo is also a starting point for a group exhibition by Czech artists and educators which Tarasiewicz will organize at MeetFactory in Prague (as a result of her art residency). Another installment of the work will be presented at the 32nd Biennale in Sao Paulo (September-December 2016) under the title Incerteza Viva (Live Uncertainty). The next project to be shown is Tarasewicz’s recent work Mazurka Project (2016) which takes on the form of publications, lectures, events, dance and music performances and installations dedicated to the traditions of Polish folk music and its similarities with Brazilian folk music conceived in cooperation with the Post Brothers.
Selected solo exhibitions:
- Ultra High Turbo III (background noise), Kostka Gallery, Meetfactory, Prague , The Czech Republic
- Turbulence Soon Appears, Trapez Gallery, Budapest, Hunagry
- LOOP DE LOOP, BIKINI, Lyon, France
Becoming red, Greylight Projects, Brussels, Belgium
Reverse logictics, BWA Warszawa, Warsaw, Poland
The Smallest Uninteresting Number, Ustka, Poland
Turba, Turbo, Zachęta, Warsaw, Poland
Sorry for All the Ups and Downs, Lisbon, Portugal
- Fungal Follies, entropic conclusion to Iza Tarasewicz’s solo exhibition, The Means, the Milieu in Objectif Exhibitins in Antwerp, mushroom puppet show, Belgium
- By the apparent impossibility of arranging signs, Arsenal Gallery, Bialystok, Poland
- The Means, the Milieu, Objectif Exhibitions, Antwerp, Belgium
- Collaborating Objects Radiating Environments, Kunstlerhaus Bethanien, Berlin,Germany
- STRANGE ATTRACTORS, Polnisches Institut Berlin, Germany
- CLINAMEN, Krolikarnia X. Dunikowski Museum of Sculpture,National Museum, Warsaw, Poland
- CREATURE, a part of the ARTISTERIUM, International Contemporary Art Exhibition and Art Events, Tbilisi, Georgia
- FRAME, Gallery Labirynt, Lublin, Poland
- ONENESS, Platan Gallery, Budapest, Hungary
- MOULT, Stereo Gallery, Poznan, Poland
- CONNECTION, BWA Zielona Gora, Poland
- NUGGET, Arsenal Gallery, Bialystok, Poland LAIR, Arsenal Gallery,Bialystok, Poland
- BREADWINNER, Starter Gallery, Poznan
- BRAWN, Arsenal Gallery, Bialystok
- HAND MADE, Pies Gallery, Poznan
Selected group exhibitions:
11th Gwangju Biennale 2016, Korea
32nd Sao Paulo Biennale 2016, Brasil
H Y P E R C O N N E C T E D, 5th Moscow International Biennale for Young Art, Moscow Museum of Modern Art
Objects Do Things, Center of Contemporary Art, Zamek Ujazdowski, Warsaw, Poland
Contemporary Art from Poland, Frankfurt, Germany
La Memoria Finalmente, Arte in Polonia 1989-2015, Palazzo Santa Margherita, Modena, Italy
Unfolding Constellations, CCA Toruń, Poland
- Gardens, Zacheta National Museum, Warsaw, Poland
- COMMON SETS, Arsenal Gallery, Bialystok, Poland
- Procedures for the head. Polish Art Today is a continuation of the exhibition As You Can See presented at the Museum of Modern Art in Warsaw at the beginning of 2014. Kunsthalle Bratislava, Slovakia
- On Generation and Corruption, BWA Contemporary Art Gallery, Katowice, Poland
- As You Can See: Polish Art Today, Modern Art in Warsaw, Poland
- EPIDEMIC, Center Of Contemporary Art, Torun, Poland
- POINT WITHOUT I, Arsenal Gallery, power station, Bialystok, Poland
- TOOLS FOR CATCHING ONE'S BALANCE, in cooperation with Janek Simon, Arsenal Muticipal Gallery, Poznan, Poland
- ASK FOR SOMETHING THAT DOESN'T EXIST, in cooperation with Ana Roldan, Labirynt Gallery, Lublin, Poland
- LONGING, Labirynt Gallery, Lublin, Poland
- SCONTRUM EVOLUTIONS, X. Dunikowski Museum of Sculpture, Warsaw, Poland
- Es ist Zeit für Turnschuhe! / It's time for sneakers! Kunstlerhau, Dortmund,Germany
- RED CROSSBAR, Salon Academy Gallery, Warsaw, Poland
- MUSEUM PROBLEM, Frutta Gallery, Rome, Italy
- WILL BE FINE, Stereo Gallery, Poznan, Poland
- IT'S OK WITH FINGERS, J Gallery, Geneva, Switzerland
- AT EASE, IT JUST CRASHES, Spokojna Gallery, Warsaw, Poland
- REVOLVING DYSFUNCTION, Europe House, Tbilisi, Georgia
- TRIBUTE TO FANGOR, BWA Warszawa/ Artbazaar, Warsaw, Poland
- FEST I NOVA, Art Villa Garikula, Khaspi, Georgia
- OPEN CITY, Festival of Art In Public Spaces, Lublin, Poland
- MIR, Arsenal Gallery, Bialystok, Poland
- EVERYTHING, Kolonie Gallery, Warsaw, Poland
- TRANSYLVANIA 2, Arsenal Muticipal Gallery, Poznan, Poland
- TRANSYLVANIA 1, BWA Zielona Gora, Poland
- IS YOUR MIND FULL OF GOOD, DPT Wigry, Poland
- Gallery Czarnowska, Berlin, Germany
- ELMS THREADS BUSHES, in cooperation with Magda Starska, Stereo Gallery, Poznan,Poland
- DIFFERENCE BEYOND DIFFERENCE, Stary Browar, Poznan, Poland
- ESTABLISHMENT(AND ITS DISCONTENS), Centre for Contemporary Art Ujazdowski Castle, Warsaw, Poland
- BODIES ADREAM, Arsenal Muticipal Gallery, Poznan, Poland
- HERE A CHANGE OCCURS, Kordegarda Gallery, Warsaw, Poland
Sources: Polish text by Agnieszka Sural, ed. by AM, January 2014 . Updated August 2016, AM.
Updated by Zuzanna Wiśniewska, June 2015