Interview – Oksana Kryzhanivska – Belgrade Art Studio Online Residency

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You work mainly with media arts and interactive sculptures. Where do you get your inspiration from?

I consider my work deeply rooted in combining digital and physical processes. In this way, the ideas develop and evolve through different stages of experimentation with code, forms, sound, interactions and human bodies. Sometimes this process is intuitive and open-ended, and sometimes, I choose to respond to the theme as a starting framework, such as during this residency. Also, in blending the digital media, such as sculpture and interaction or sound, I am never satisfied with the boundaries between these different aspects of art practice, so there is always something else left to discover further in the following work or project.

With the digital media, the artist is not constrained by the physicality of material; however, the analogue medium carries innate complexities that inspire the digital explorations with computer code, ai and modelling tools, as well as game design environments. For example, for this residency, my project combined hand-modelling with generative coding of sculptural forms in Python and a visual scripting language. The duration of writing the code allows for a space to reflect on the topics and ideas as well as shape the process based on the concepts.

In the current work, I speak about the artist’s role in the conflict state through the themes of virtual placemaking and memory. The resulting sonic sculptural work explores the crystallization and fracturing of memory where the computer code deconstructs and reconstructs the original modelled object, similar to the casting of sculptural forms in physical materials. Here, I draw on my previous experience with sculptural media, where the subsequent translations from one material to another remove the final form from its original.

On the other hand, the virtual world allows redefining our understanding of embodiment through interactive interfaces that mediate our experiences in unusual ways. I similarly approach the shaping of sound. However, sculpting of sound acts on the more intuitive embodied vibrational level.

What is your aim as an artist? What would you like the public to get away from your work? 

I believe that the goal of the art practice is two-fold. One aspect is rooted in the exploration of self and the understanding of self through the process of making. And the other element is to share the final works with the public for a place of reflection, discussion or discovery of something unusual or unfamiliar. I also believe artwork needs to be seen to come alive.

With the current work, I intend a meditative experience that can be either actively explored or passively observed as a sonic sculpture. The virtual exhibition format makes the artwork available to the public from many different locations worldwide and asks them to reflect on their relationship to their home and view Ukraine as someone’s homeland. Throughout the last months, a lot has changed in the world as we know it, and this work intends to portray these issues more personally.

How do you feel about being involved in an online residency program?

Art and research residencies are a very fruitful way to develop an artistic practice for artists in different stages of their journey. In my view, the exchanges with peers amplify ideas and creative thinking, expose them to different approaches and build a sense of community based on the various themes or media rather than strictly geographic locations. With regards to online programs, such as those offered by Belgrade Art Studio, the online format allows artists to work from their own studio space while actively interacting with others globally. I see online residencies as complementary to the physical programs and offering advantages to a particular type of artist. One can forget that not every artist has the means to attend the physical residencies, even if they compensate for some of the artist’s expenses. Concerning my art practice, I value engagement and support of various forms of residency types.

How important is it to stay connected with the international art community?

Many communities approach their art and communities in ways different from Western practices. Exposure to these other methods expands my appreciation for different ways of thinking and making and cultural philosophies.

What are your thoughts about the theme ‘Conflict Art Peace’? 

My take on this theme is that it is a complex subject to talk about since it allows one to project their experiences onto the meanings of these words. I appreciated this through my experience in this program; every member approached this combination of words from their own immediate experiences. My approach took on this theme as a guide to explore the meaning of these notions on a deeper level and question the artist’s role in the state of international conflict.

You grew up in Ukraine. As an artist today, do you feel a duty to react?

How can art transform conflict? Does it generate new inspiration and a way of healing?

When exploring this topic, I attempt to create a space for reflection for myself and the audience. One can ask oneself what the most meaningful way to react is, and this question came up several times for me. The theme’s framework allowed me to relate to other deeper issues ongoing in my current and past places of residence. I also feel like the power of what art can do varies by the artist and their ways of making, which sometimes include calls to action, facilitating a discourse or a place to reflect for the audience.

Tell us a bit more about your project ideas…

What do you want to achieve in the near future? Any plans/projects?

I see this project as part of the continuing exploration into digital media, as some of these themes will evolve into future work. My subsequent work will focus on a collaboration with several local artists where we are working on an interactive VR film, organizing a symposium on virtual reality as creative media and a group exhibition with contemporary artists in Zhuhai, China, where I currently reside.