Radical Terrain: Janaina Tschape on Landscape

Uploaded by RubinMuseum on 30.11.2012

I did this piece like um, more than ten years ago called "A Hundred Little Deaths"
where I was interested in trying to include myself into different landscapes that I was traveling to,
so it was a performance basically where I tried to insert myself into the landscape
as an object almost, but in a way, trying to leave a trace
or trying just to mark the landscape. So I started to look into landscape as a memory,
basically, as a memory of places I have been.
And this project lasted for about five years or more, and after that when I started
doing um, more photography, I would always shoot in, like, in the landscape.
I was never a studio photographer so I would build objects or build inflatables and costumes
and insert them and in a way also sort of connect them to the landscape.
And from that I think all the drawings and paintings, they kind of related
to the memory of the performance, which was the memory of landscape.
So I think, until now, whenever I paint, it comes from a memory,
and it always starts up as a landscape in a way, because- with a horizon somehow-
because a brush stroke is almost a horizon.
And then from that it starts accumulating and becoming
more organic or sometimes more figurative.
The process that I do my work, most of the time, is like, I create an idea.
I did this piece called, "He Drowned in Her Eyes as She Called Him to Follow",
which was sort of about mermaids, and it was dealing with the idea of mermaids,
and how we imagine mermaids.
And um, I started attaching things to her body because I thought, okay, kind of simply,
the woman lives in the water for centuries, she's gonna be deformed.
So I started attaching those latex balloons to her hands and feet,
and getting her above water. But then the water would somehow
connect her back to the surface or to the landscape.
So I think, the figurative- it was like emerging from the landscape so somehow still connected
and I started imagining how those connections would look like.
From all the experience of the performances, I try in a way to use the landscape almost as a huge canvas
because whenever I work um, outside, I, you know, there were a lot of pieces where I used balloons also,
besides the human figure, and then colored balloons, so that would be kind of almost like, you know,
making dots inside the landscape. And I think that whole experience can visually-
like I said, I work a lot from memory. When I go back to the studio and I start painting,
I do refer to all those performances in a way, as a composition also.
So the balloons and the attachments, the tubes, they kind of started
to blend into the paintings as somehow like breaking the landscape again.
So you create a landscape and then you start creating patterns inside that landscape
that would break the landscape again.
And I think with the paper cuts, I kind of um, took the idea of geometry and pattern
that I was mimicking somehow in the painting and made it in paper, but kind of more structured.
So that I would take a piece of paper, like the piece I have here in the show,
it's basically a labyrinth cut, very straightforward, cut into a piece of paper
and then there's another piece of paper that I painted yellow, and that I cut the same shape,
and once I hang it on the wall, all the lines, they fall and then they blend in
and then I start creating almost, I'd say creating little mountains and landfalls
and waterfalls out of the paper cuts that come from that very rigid form.