Olga Balema: There is No Outside of Language, Ross Simonini, δημοσίευση στο ArtReview [2/2/2023]
The artist’s work is characterised by a sense of mystery, maybe even nonexistence
The work of Olga Balema is a satisfying defiance. She maintains a fluid approach to every aspect of her art: titles, forms, expectations and materials, which are occasionally actual fluids. Most often you can find her work resting on the ground, slumped or flat, and settling into the architecture.
Her recent show Formulas, at Croy Nielsen in Vienna, is a collection of tilelike works, placed on the floor, where they appear to have been broken, then reassembled into elegantly inelegant collage. Her work brain damage (2019) is an installation of sundry spindly threads, stretched at ankle level: a patternless and beguiling web. Another work, Motherfucker (2016), exhibited at the Baltic Triennial in 2018, features sagging breasts affixed to crudely painted ripped maps. (Balema was born in Ukraine, in 1984, and moved to the United States while a teenager.)
For me, Balema’s works have always been characterised by mystery, especially her ongoing series of clear acrylic sculptures. Almost entirely transparent, they rest quietly between the wall and floor, without any interest in announcing their form. Looked at from a certain angle, in a certain light, they would not appear to exist at all.
This translucence is often accented by Balema’s modest installations and bare context. Many of her works are untitled, and in the past she has not been particularly vocal about her work, doing no interviews and making few written statements. But in line with her resistance to consistency, other work carries elaborate titles (eg, Manifestations of our own wickedness and future idiocy, 2017), and at times in the interview below she even responded loquaciously.
Initially when I reached out to Balema about an interview, she turned me down. But eventually we began to speak: first over the phone, then in a series of email exchanges. During this time, she was busy, intermittently sick and installing multiple shows around the world. Our exchange occurred over three seasons.
Η συνέχεια εδώ.