PROJECT: THE ELEMENTS. A CHAMBER SYMPHONY
publication: bound magazine
PHOTOGRAPHy: TEA SIRBILADZE
sculptress: BERTABLANCA T. IVANOW
ART DIRECTion: juan rincón & bertablanca t. ivanow
Our Earth is a complex, self-regulated system, with the unique planetary ability to reclaim its own off spring and destruction. In it, organisms collectively interact, adapt and perpetually evolve such as Ivanow’s creatures do. To her, all elements that grow organically have a similar circle of creation and destruction. The artist’s creation is therefore consequent to her interest in the physiognomy of the earth and the geological, volcanic and robust elements that compound it.
The sensorial is another important feature to her practice. Through the connection to the elements that link us to earth, Ivanow’s desire is to apply an association to the sense of touch by bringing attention to the sensorial in an ever-visual civilization, as she claims: “I want to involve the visitor, whose skin has a status of constant renewal and carries its own memory, which ultimately defines the perception of the object”. Hence the tactility of the soil is essential to understand the artist’s interest on earth.
Water has been vastly used as a metaphor for change, evolution and regeneration. Ivanow’s work can be placed as a distortion of her own reality. Distortion, because it is a change of the natural, and the evolution of an organic form. Water gives room for this transformation to happen. When reflected in the water, the sculptures transform creating new shapes.
The mirror reflects its polymorphic silhouette as it dissolves, changing to unpredictable forms, in consonance with the movement adopted by the spectator around it. This proposes an interesting game of perception and distortion that places the viewer as a vulnerable actor that questions his own gaze.
According to Ancient Greek mythology, fire was stolen from the gods and given to mankind by a sneaky son-of-a-Titan named Prometheus. Passion, energy, fury, warmth and fear are just a few of one’s immediate impulses when thinking about it. As with water, fire is seen as an essential element through which transformation and metamorphosis living beings undergo. In this process they can change form, state and even gender seemingly to Ivanow’s creatures: ‘I like to think of sculptures as hermaphrodites, their forms are at the crossroads between the concavity and sensuality of the feminine curve, and the masculine energy and power’.
In its own way it is an odd symbolic equivalence between the female body and the maternal ownership Ivanow takes on everything she creates. Rounded shapes, phallic forms, the ethereal and the morphic figures emanate as an extension of her psyche.
Air is the breath through which life is created. Air steals its visibility to the material essences to inhabit in its own transparency.
Surrounding us all as an invisible and floating component which takes place into the void of the space, Air is that which recalls the primordial Breath of Life, when creation happens, and existence is given. The ethereal properties of the blowing wind shape thanks to the corrosive, but seducing qualities that air can manifest as much as the sculptures do in their own living process.
Metaphorically it is something ethereal, unclear, untouchable, fading. The organic process of leaving a mark, traces, signs and suspensions of particles in a trait to exposure of smoke.
On The Aether
Also known as the fifth element, the aether is according to ancient and medieval science, the material that fills the region of the universe above the terrestrial sphere. In other words, the air of gods. The notion of a hypothetical invisible fluid, weightless and elastic which is considered to fill all space and constitutes the transmitting medium of all the manifestations of energy.
When moulding the block of clay, which is originally a block of clay without form but with many years of history on its back, as it comes from the extracts of years down the terrestrial and is left on its surface. At the time of creating the sculptures, there is that poignant moment when the piece comes to life, as if it became this second presence and it is in this moment when I stop, as it is then when I stop because the piece makes sense…
In my sculptures the forms arise as nature is created. In my work there is no hint of rationality, but life force, intuition and search. Sculptures do not obey predefined patterns, but they themselves are formed following their own path.
It is also fascinating to relate Ivanow’s practice to the historical symbolism to the the worship of nature. According to the Bibliotheca – Pseudo-Apollodoeus, the essential Greek mythology library, Prometheus molded men out of water and earth, so as in the Genesis and the Qur’an, which state that God created man from clay. This clues not only exemplify the production of exchange between man and nature but also how essential the interchange between the maker and material is. It not only promotes a collaborative approach in the making but it also evokes a maternal approach to the object, which is Ivanow’s case.
The outcome is therefore spontaneous but intrinsic to Ivanow’s artistic ethos: creating brutal but subtle objects with a big devotion to raw physicality. Through these embryonic structures there is a plausible devotion to a strange sensuality that grows through different ideas: from the embryotic imagery that builds
towards a sacred relation to the womb and a reconnection to motherhood; to altering forms of flesh and being able to produce carnal rearrangements through the malleability of the clay. The aftermath eluding the erotic and animal symbols that shape Ivanow’s universal culture.
As a result, working at her earthy studio – a sacred laboratory where the holy to praise is to reconnect with the mother earth – the artist efforts in exploring a diverse range of firing techniques which hold as common denominator the four elements of western culture: fire, earth, air and water, proving that overall, Ivanow’s work is an allegory of nature.