• Smooth Shatter – Leah Oates

    Date posted: October 6, 2006 Author: jolanta

    Leah Oates: Your recent solo show at Priska Juschka was a significant change of focus for your work. Previously you had worked with underground urban systems to build new and fictional territories. With the current work there is sculpture and other media along with paint. Please speak about what precipitated this shift.
    Dannielle Tegeder: My work has always referenced utopianism and to some degree, it has been connected to architecture, even in this series. However, in recent years I have felt the urge to move on beyond a certain narrative literality that my previous underground city series had.

    Smooth Shatter – Leah Oates

    Image
    Dannielle Tegeder, Elbu, 2006. Mixed media on canvas. 48 X60 ins. Courtesy of Priska C. Juschka Fine Art.

        Leah Oates: Your recent solo show at Priska Juschka was a significant change of focus for your work. Previously you had worked with underground urban systems to build new and fictional territories. With the current work there is sculpture and other media along with paint. Please speak about what precipitated this shift.
        Dannielle Tegeder: My work has always referenced utopianism and to some degree, it has been connected to architecture, even in this series. However, in recent years I have felt the urge to move on beyond a certain narrative literality that my previous underground city series had. This evolution initiated when I started doing wall drawings last year, which made me interact more directly with the architecture of a space and also after I built a physical model of a city last year in Banff, Canada. Additionally, I have always been interested in early 20th century avant-garde movements—such as Constructivism—and felt the urge to make works that would playfully incorporate some of that language with some new elements I have been developing. Thinking about this last exhibition, I think the main difference with the previous work is its emphasis on the interplay between the different works, that is, the fact that I have developed an interest in playing with the entire physical space of the gallery where one work becomes a counterpoint of another.
        LO: What does the title of the show mean to convey? Can you speak about the role of the titles in the works that you do?
        DT: Both my works and the titles they carry don’t intend to convey literal meanings, even when they appear to very literal. I see the titles almost as a work onto themselves. In my previous series, they would go on for a paragraph or two and they were closer to map nomenclature but one of an entirely fictional nature, somehow falling somewhere in between the tradition of Calvino or Borges. The titles that correspond to the works in this recent exhibition are anagrams for example, Resvil and Welloy. That is silver and yellow but the rearranged letters becomes a fictional place. They seem to me more fitting with the current paintings and sculptures, which are more of a scrambled set of symbols than the apparently more “organized” cities of the previous series.
        LO: What do you think about artists that change their work or choose a drastically different direction? And what do you think gets lost or gained in the process?
        DT: I think artists should constantly question themselves and revise the direction where they are going. I see it an essential part of art making. I think there is a great market pressure to remain producing in a particular aesthetic or formal line, but you can’t grow as an artist without challenging yourself precisely at the moments when you feel most comfortable. I admire artists that have undergone dramatic changes in their work such as Yuri Masnyj, Thomas Scheibitz and David Altmejd.
        LO: How do you see the formal aspects of the work have changed? Do you think that the paintings are more connected to Modernism while the sculptures are more connected to Minimalism?
        DT: Perhaps that perception would have to do more with the inherent history of the mediums and the materials that I used in the sculptures (glass, plastic, mahogany wood, mirror, etc.) The placement of the works became important too (some of the paintings were just leaning against the wall). The works are really a critique and re-exploration of those ideas, via a lens of recent painting and of my long-term involvement with modern architecture.
        LO: You seem to be gravitating towards three-dimensionality. Do you think your future work may evolve into designing architectural spaces?
        DT: No. This has been an ongoing question that comes up in my work, but in truth I am interested in making objects, not environments. I don’t think I could deal with the restrictions of an architect. I am interested in looking at things and sometimes in activating spaces, but not necessarily in making those spaces. I have a similar relationship with design. I have been looking at furniture design of the 20s in Dumbo, which is where I have my studio, but once the ideas come into the work, the designs are always impractical. Perhaps it is a process of “unmaking,” rather than one of “making.”
        LO: Why do you think you are interested in utopias? The subject appears to be a recurrent theme in the art world today.
        DT: I don’t even know if the cities that I made are true utopias—maybe dystopias. But I have always been interested in architecture that somehow fails in some way or is a mistake, but has these wide aspirations. I like non-utilitarian things. There is an inherent artistic quality in impracticality. I think that ultimately every artistic enterprise is utopian, carrying some sort of ideal aspiration that never seems to come to fruition completely. So it seems fitting to me that we as artists would make work about utopias.

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