Drawing is an important device in the practice of Brazilian artist Juliana Kase, both in the traditional understanding of the term, marks left by graphite moving across a surface, and also in the sense of the reinterpretation of an element or object via a process. This allows her a method for exploring her artistic preoccupations, which revolve around the examination of the problems and concerns of contemporary culture. For Kase drawing, as in reinterpretation, is a means of analyzing and developing an idea, and not necessarily an end goal.
The work of Juliana Kase can be regarded as site responsive, and she is multi-layered in her approach to this concern. Displacement, of things, and of preconceptions, is a recurring theme. In 2011 during her ArtFunkl residency at Cylinders in Cumbria, Kase focused her attention on the context, using subtle interventions, carefully placed. Several small, fragile pieces of work were installed directly into the fabric of the old buildings in the grounds of Cylinders. This action provoked awareness of the details, textures, and elements of the surroundings. A window, a texture, the patterns of a dry stone wall, tiny elements of the environment that would normally be assimilated in passing without scrutiny. Kase’s work invited the viewer to look in a more searching way.
Her 2012 exhibition, at Galeria Pilar in São Paulo, Progressions in Place Without Shadows, (Andamentos Para Lugar See Sombras), was a sister project to the above. For this body of work she removed objects from their habitual environment, experimenting with the impact the physical relationship between object and space has on our interpretation. Once abstracted, the object was subjected to a process, via a graphic, or photographic technique, and was subsequently presented as an art piece, and placed in the gallery. The gallery environment is somewhat neutral, and since it had undergone processing, only traces of the original item remained. Thus it was presented distilled to its purest essence, with minimal distractions to disturb contemplation.
Peripheral matters, such as the positioning of the items in relation to the spaces they are in, are also of paramount important to Juliana Kase. In Progressions in Place Without Shadows movement of the viewer from one work to another created a specific perambulation, whereby the displacement of the viewer required in order to see the whole exhibition was an important factor in the experience. The processing and repositioning of items called into question our accepted value judgement system, both in consideration of the worth of the object, and the importance context has to the assumption of that worth.
In more recent years Juliana Kase has further developed her practice of drawing. Always seeking to understand and engage with the structures of everyday life. Her 2016 exhibition in São Paulo, Field of Dispersion, (Campo De Dispersão), further illustrated her preoccupation with abstracting fragments of the everyday, and examining them in isolation. The artist chose as her subject a very poignant category of objects: the digital devices that support, surround and, underpin contemporary life, or to be even more specific, the surfaces of light that influence every aspect of modern existence.
A photographic method was used to capture this information light, ironically resulting in highly pigmented black images. These are so dense that you almost sink into them, get lost in them, in the same way as you do when you stare at a computer screen, but rather than an escape into a world of facts and connections, the darkness of these seems to offer an alternative universe, where you are alone inside the vastness of your mind.
In contrast to the above, the artist also offered a complimentary contemplative experience. A large piece of paper folded and marked out with a grid was mounted to fill an entire wall panel in the gallery. It acted as a reminder of our manual capabilities, and an analogue counterpoint to the highly technical section of the exhibition. The paper wall installation seem to move and ‘breathe’ depending on the people in the room, contrasting with the dark, fixed black rectangles of the portable objects of every day life.
Kase’s current exhibition “Clichés”, at Paço das Artes, São Paulo, again examines issues of context, this time though, it is overlaid with socio-political landscape. The artist had access to over 200 metal printing clichés (stereotypes) dating from the 1960s and 1970s, the period of dictatorship in Brazil. She realised that there was much to glean from the archive beyond the political and commercial uses it was put to at the time, and sought to draw attention to this. Kase’s presentation of the material takes it out of its original context, and re-interprets it to show a more diverse reading of the period.
Juliana Kase is based in São Paulo, Brazil. She is represented by Galeria Pilar, São Paulo, where her work can be viewed.