From The Diary of a Fly

Maria Chevska

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Q&A with Maria Chevksa

How does this project relate to your practice as a whole?

For this project I have developed a sequence of images of diminishing scale, based on my notebook drawing of the "FlyBuilding." Handmade on gridded book pages, they animate the unstable and zooming motion of a fly, changing scale and perspectives so that established framing devices—social, conceptual, and physical—are jeopardised. This, too, is the notional basis for my ongoing larger project: a series of paintings and sculptures entitled "From the Diary of a Fly"—referencing the Béla Bartók 1922 piano piece of the same name. Words, images, and materiality are the elements at play in my practice as a whole. My titles invariably act as a specific conceptual theme for an indefinite number of works in two and three dimensions.

What does working with words mean to you as a visual artist?

The renewable life of words—the way one internally says them while looking at them—this murmuring seems to me to double the act of looking, eliciting from viewers a more active participation. Words set within the material processes of painting or sculpture are both abstract and concrete. For me they are the equivalents to the "found object," having a direct connection to our lives and experiences, whether their sources are literary, sound bite, or instructional.

Can you say something about writing as visual language?

Writing as visual language is inevitably viewed as a balancing act: the mind searching for cognitive meaning, on the one hand, and yet its subjection to physical process invites a willingness to forego literal meaning and work with the curious disjunction of language. Concrete Poetry comes to mind, but writing embedded in a visual object such as a painting or a sculpture turns it into thingness. Its sonic aspect, as mentioned before, also contributes to its multisensory agency.

Some of your thoughts on translation, please.

Translation can be thought of as moving significance from one context to another, between all mediums. Along the way, meaning is lost and invented—works of art can become a lens for the decipherment of expressed ideas, and ferried across borders. Equivalence is the aim—respecting the ambiguities inherent in nonverbal communication and avoiding the blandly literal, or interpretive.

Some thoughts on transcultural exchange, please.

I wish to be optimistic about the current prevalence of transcultural exchange, to hold on to it as a mode of global enquiry and knowledge. Not all given subtexts are readily translatable, and in the face of the always present potential failure for artworks to communicate anything at all outside of their immediate context, the act of exchange represents a democratisation of the creative life and counters any particular cultural dominance—which is to be desired.