Eva Ostrowska (b. in 1989) currently lives and works in Paris. She is both French and Ukrainian. She graduated in fine arts from L’Ecole des Beaux Arts in Bordeaux and the Sorbonne University in Paris. Nearly seven years ago, she abandoned her daily routine life to move frequently from place to place choosing an area to live for several months to several years. Her journey brought her to live in different countries such as North America, Mexico, Iceland, Russia, Cyprus, Japan, Spain and recently in France.
From her nomadism, Eva Ostrowska has created a mosaic of narratives that mixes her own autobiographical life with performance, installation and photography. Her work has appeared in various international publications and her self-published artist book is both into the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art New York (MoMA) and the Franklin Furnace Archives of Brooklyn.
Giangiacomo Cirla: Hello Eva, How are you?
I’m very curious to know more about your new project “Halcyon”, which we are very proud to publish exclusively, done in the driest desert on Earth. Tell me about it…
Eva Ostrowska: I am great and I hope you are doing perfect as well! Thank you for having me!
Well I recently had the chance to be invited to the Atacama Desert in Chile at the art residency La Wayaka Current. I was able to explore there some very remote places in the desert and I have also collaborated with some native Chilean communities named the Atacamenos. It is in such a beautiful context that I decided to shoot this new series: Halcyon.
GC: These places seem to be extraterrestrials, uninhabited and yet to be discovered, so with lots of potential to be expressed. How was to work in these landscapes?
EO: This is a region well known for its outstanding natural beauty. You are totally immersed by nature. Working in these landscapes was completely sublime. That natural environment gave me so much energy.
GC: What impressed you the most of the Atacama Desert?
EO: The lack of water and how every life-being adapted to survive. The last drop of rain water fell on its ground twenty million years ago so today every drop matters and is extremely precious. I was also totally impressed by the life of the Atacamenos who live in the middle of the driest desert on Earth in total harmony with nature.
GC: Is there an autobiographical aspect in this project?
EO: Yes there is. The title of this series says it all. Halcyon is a transformation, a metamorphosis, a regeneration and a rebirth to another life. Halcyon comes after the ancient Greek myth of Alcyone, a tragic story of love and commitment between the Goddess Alcyone and the mortal King Ceyx. From this myth derives a well-known English phrase, “the Halcyon Days” that denotes a period of time in the past where everything was peaceful and idyllically happy.
GC: This work has a strong meditative connotation that enhance matter and details and that in my opinion represent your stylistic hallmark, what relationship do you have with the material aspect of the subject?
EO: I have a mystical relationship with the material aspect of all of my subjects. I am fascinated with the consistency of a surface or a substance, with a special skin texture or tone. In that series for example, I had a spiritual relationship with those rocks, not in a “New-Agy” term, but more like a contemplative relationship. I am passionate about geology, archeology and anthropology so I was completely driven by the story of the place. Those rocks contain all the mysteries of the world, they were an old ocean millions of years ago and what is magic is that today they are still here but in a different shape. I see them as a sanctuary.
GC: Just like in your previous works on human bodies…
Many of your previous projects had a very strong human presence instead in this new series it is totally absent, what are the reasons for this different approach?
EO: I have an admiration for the human body, but I recently felt a bit of saturation exploring it. That series comes after this period. I was tired of all the human games. I needed to take distance with my social life. Sometimes I feel that instead of growing spiritually and intellectually, we have a tendency to regress and become dumber than we already were. We live more into the virtual world than into the real world, more into the representation than into the presentation. So removing the human presence in this new series was like erasing a blackboard full of scripts. I wanted to go back to nature, to start from the desert dust in order to write a new blank page.
GC: The performative aspect is often present in your works, can you talk about it?
EO: Well the question of documenting performance art has been a very solid problem for those who work in the performance or ephemeral art. Most of my photographs are both the exhibition and the performance itself. I have studied both fine arts and theater so it comes as an evidence to mix them in my work. I like to experience the photography as a live action. There is an invisible communication behind a photograph. I am more interested in the aesthetic experience of a photograph than just the photograph as an object itself. Most of my photographs document the performances I have done. For example, in the series You Are Mine, 2016, every violent actions were actually performed on my body. It was a live performance and not a pose for the camera.
GC: Photography, performance, installation are three aspects that coexist in your work, have you ever experimented or are you going to experiment with other media?
EO: My first love ever was painting. I stopped painting when I moved to America in 2011. I had a very tiny studio in Hell’s Kitchen, New York. Those frustrations of lacking space led me to express my art through other media, such as photography and performance. I will certainly go back to painting once I will settle for goods – if I ever will.
GC: You have lived in many places during the last years, is your need or a need related to your work?
EO: It is a need. I am insatiable. It is probably a disease!
I freak out when I feel the routine is coming. It does not comfort me. It scares me. I have a strong need for learning new things, for discovering new cultures and most of all for loneliness. I know people hate that word but for me it is a motivational force that drives me to create. By moving in different places, I challenge my boundaries, my fears and my limits. It’s always epic, it’s never the same everyday. But living that kind of life does not only have positive aspects, there are a lot of negative aspects too, relationships for example!
GC: Do you have a place that you feel as home more than others?
EO: My heart goes for the continents of North and South America.
The United States have a very special place in my heart. It has shaped me for several years, it’s where I have grown up as a young woman and where I got to live some extraordinary experiences.
But a place that is very unique and that I feel like home is definitely South America. I have lived in Mexico a few years ago and I was recently in Chile. I have a lot more to explore there. South America has such a different and unique feeling. It is hard to explain. Something in the air is different. There is more light. More colors. More contrasts. I can’t explain it. It simply speaks to my soul.
GC: What are your next plans?
EO: I am working on a few different projects for this year, but chut it’s a secret for now…
I’ll keep you posted!
website: Eva Ostrowska
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