Zwevend in blauwe kathedralen van gefilterd licht. De beelden die Biava oproept zijn soms sprookjesachtig, soms spiritueel. Voor haar is de onderwaterwereld een compleet andere wereld dan die waar wij dagelijks in zijn, zoals ook de kunst een andere wereld is. Het is de wereld van de verbeelding. “Er is geen geluid, je moet communiceren door vorm en gevoel.”
Biava is als kunstenaar internationaal bekend geworden met haar poëtische pionierswerk in de onderwaterfotografie. Op de indrukwekkende foto’s en videowerken is de kunstenaar te zien in een diepblauwe ruimte als drijvende onthechte verschijning.
Haar vorige We Like Art editie was een groot succes en is inmiddels uitverkocht. We zijn heel blij dat ze speciaal voor ons tijdens haar verblijf als artist in residence aan het IBB, een platform voor hedendaagse kunst op Curaçao een nieuw werk maakte. We vroegen haar meer over dit werk en haar tijd op het eiland.
Could you tell us a bit more about your stay in Curaçao and IBB?
It has been quite an adventure, my husband and child moved to Curaçao with me. My husband, Sander Tiedema, is a photographer and he often works with artists as well. For the period of the residency he has been working with me. Besides shooting this underwater photo for this special edition, we also have been working on a new serie of photos that we shot on shore where the sand meets the sea.
I haven’t yet showed those images to anyone or posted them on Instagram because I intended to keep them unseen until my upcoming solo show at Museum Beelden aan Zee.
In Curaçao I was especially looking forward to work with the nature and the landscape of the island but I must say that also to work with the students at IBB and getting to know the culture and other artist view on art has been a surprisingly interesting experience.
In general my impression of the island is that there is a good awareness of the nature and there are several activities and projects to keep the island clean and healthy, but despite the efforts and ecological projects to safeguard nature, due to mass tourism, especially the marine flora and fauna are very damaged.
Did your plans change much by the Corona Crisis?
Unfortunately yes, we had to come back in March instead of in May because Curaçao had a very rigid lockdown. I guess that we where lucky to be able to come back. It’s probably quite unlikely that I will be able to go back, still I hope that we will. There were some other underwater photos that I had planned to shoot there.
I even left at IBB several ceramic sculptures that would had to function as props for the pictures. I was also giving a ceramic course to the students of IBB and we where in the middle of it. I had left several glaze tests in the kiln and all my glazes at IBB. Hopefully next year I’ll be able to complete the ceramic course, my works and the residency.
How did this new work came about? Did you get any local help?
Yes, I have been working with a small diving school and we simply swam out from the beach. The water on the beaches is mostly clear, only on the day we had booked the dive, and the extra instructor to bring me air, it had rained, and the water was quite murky. At first I wasn’t so happy with it, but then I started to like the painterly quality it had given to the image.
After all I’m still shooting with an analog camera and color reversal film because of the grain and the painterly atmosphere that it offers. This is probably because I studied painting at the academy in Milan and my training was all about the vibration of the tones in painting and the depth that the transpiration of the layers brings to the image. I like that my work doesn’t look like those crisp underwater pictures, that almost look like they are frozen in ice, which the new digital cameras create.
I started already during my studies to work underwater. It is since then that I see the blue of the sea like the white of the canvas or of the paper, I consider it the space where to put down the ideas and the images that I have in my mind. This because the underwater isn’t a place that we can inhabit, so it is for us another space or dimension, just like the space for art is.
What are the small objects you are juggling?
They are ceramic sculptures with a silver luster finishing. I made them with the intention to have them look like air bubbles. When I was working at this piece I also felt that air needed our attention. Not so long after I made this work the pandemic started. It became clear now that the people living in the big cities where more affected by the virus, also because the air pollution had damaged their lungs.
So hopefully now we will all pay more attention to air. I was happy to read for example that recently in many big cities in Europe many new bike paths have been build.
What is the title of the work?
The title is: ‘Circle and other air curves’. With the title I like to bring the attention to mathematics and to the mathematical rules that air follow when underwater. Since the beginning of my career, I have been inspired by the hidden laws of nature. The regular forms of the organic world originate according to certain rules, information and energy.
As an artist I wish to find ways to make my work according to those principles. During the last decade I have been working with analytic geometry and mathematics to create, understand and work with shapes. The interaction between information, matter and energy informs and shapes what we see, it forms our reality.
To show this interaction I use clay, as the matter, mathematics and numbers, as the information, my actions and my hands as the energy. I regard the matter that I work with as entangled with the information and a phenomena in becoming.
How are you doing now back in Holland, what are your plans for the near future?
Since I came back I’m working on an installation that I started working on when I was in residency in Curaçao. It is meant for the solo show that I will have at the Museum Beelden aan Zee. Unfortunately I just heard yesterday that the show has been postponed to March. It was supposed to be in the fall.
This is the situation for many artists at the moment, many shows have been postponed or even canceled. I hope that art will manage to overcome this period. Or even better that this period will also bring good things, like more awareness for the planet. Focusing only on our gain is unproductive, as we can see now, if we would focus on the wellbeing of the planet and of all lifeforms inhabiting earth, we will achieve also our wellbeing.
Maura Biava (Reggio Emilia, Italy, 1970) woont en werkt in Amsterdam. Ze is opgeleid aan de Academy of Brera in Milaan en was deelnemer aan de Rijksakademie in Amsterdam. Ze was artist in residence bij het European Ceramic Work Center in Den Bosch (2008); bij de American Academy in Rome (2010-2011); bij het Museum Carlo Zauli, Faenza in Italie (2013); en bij het ISCP in New York (2014) en Le Maupas, A.I.R. France (2017).
Het werk van Biava is te zien geweest in talloze tentoonstellingen over de hele wereld. Haar werk is onder meer verzameld door het Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam en Stedelijk Museum De Domijnen in Sittard, Akzo Nobel Art Foundation, Amsterdam en De Nederlandsche Bank in Amsterdam.