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Public Sphere

Ewelina Trejta


I am a Polish artist living and working in London.

In my practice, I am trying to experiment and achieve learning outcomes from adopting multiple materials and techniques (concrete, plaster, resin, clay, latex, silicone, animal blood, meat, non-narrative video, photography - digital, film, and alternative).

I am engaged in a widely understood nature morte motif. My oldest background before pursuing fine art is in archaeology and the history of art. The mentioned background made me engaged with motifs and roots of Latin culture and myths in general.

Recently I rediscovered clay as a highly meaningful material with a generous content of symbolism. Clay is a truly primordial and living material. In contemporary cultures, there is a functioning archetype of clay as a substitute for living matter,

Concerning my interest in the vanitas and abject motif, I used animal and human blood. Images of flies and worms in some videos work as a symbol of decay and death but with a twist: such as highlighting their contribution to ecological renewal, and as a metaphor for transformation and rebirth. In these works, I tried to emphasize the mortality and the imminent death of living creatures including homo sapiens.

Degree Details

School of Arts & Humanities

Public Sphere

My research and creation process is focused on phenomena of death (death as a culturally meaningful event, burial rituals), body/flesh, the biological aspect of life (decay, decomposition).

I have a degree in Archaeology and I used to work in the fields for a few years. I was working on necropoles sites. Work on archaeological sites with skeleton burials (eg. burials of political prisoners from Stalinist times in Poland, executed by a shot in the back of a head; 17-century cemetery in central London); observations of the process of decay of bones and soft tissue; bones disease had had an impact on my art practice.

My Archaeology background also led me to my enthusiasm for exploring clay as a material. Clay/ceramics is always present on archaeological sites. Very often dating is based on ceramic sherds. Ceramics is always everywhere in our contemporary times. It is in the bricks of a wall, pavements, toilets, toothpaste, make-up, medicines.

I choose clay because of its symbolic aspect. It is a material used to create a human according to many myths from various cultures (e.g. Golem). Also, the fact that fire (one of four elements) can change clay on a chemical level is rather symbolic. Clay can in fact count also as one of the four elements (Earth).


Installation's detail
Documentation of the installation

Replica of human skeleton made out of unfired clay. There is a water tank suspended above the skeleton. The reservoir is connected to the drip device. Water drops reach the surface of bone dry clay and cause the material to dissolve. It can be seen as an obvious echo of the Ashes to ashes, dust to dust quote.

Medium:

unfired clay, water tank, drip device
— Installation's detail
— Installation's detail
View of installation draft — Documentation of the installation
— The projection for the installation

Human skeleton and loose bones made out of black clay. Fired. Surrounded by clay vessels and jewellery (rings). During the exhibition, it will be on black soil, however, in the draft/work in progress version of the home display presented in the documentation, there is a bare floor. There is also a black and white projection (link to the projection included above). I have used footage from medical MRI scan imagery of the skeleton/skull (with visible tooth buds) of my baby. Watching this for the first time was an experience like from the iconic graveyard scene from Hamlet. Paradoxical one. I 'looked' into the skull of a living person yet still unborn. In the projection, I have also combined footage of my father's coronary angiography and night shot footage of foxes from a nearby garden. Foxes which I look after. The skeletons, especially their white teeth, are rather grotesque and could be bringing up a picture of the Medieval Dance Macabre motif. The piece mimics the site of archaeological excavation. Formal presentation consecrates skeletons as archaeological discoveries or artwork and opens a possibility for the viewer to read his/her own story from the fragments displayed. I would like to add more elements like video-mapping of letters/poetry on vases and skulls for the exhibition in July.

Medium:

ceramic, glaze, oat grass, (there will be black soil during an exhibition display) video-projection

Size:

dimension variable

Agape is a love feast of the first Christians, being a meal partaken of in connection with the communion. Photography refers to prevalent in many culture's practices of eating a meal with the dead. In preChristian Slavic folklore, there was a celebration called Dziady (sometimes translated as Forefathers Eve). Its essence was a communion of the living with the dead. According to these beliefs, the souls of the ancestors are periodically returning to their homes. The soul had to be hosted (fed and watered) during a special feast prepared at home or cemeteries (directly on graves).

Medium:

series of colour digital photographs, 50x70 cm

Size:

50x70 cm

Series of vessels, intended to be captured as deeply symbolic artefacts. Vessels hold things, objects as well as can “hold” memory and tradition. This series of vessels could “come from” speculative/imaginary cultures/tribes. This series is about the relationships which we have as humans with objects in our life and the memory which they carry. Whose heritage they could be? Again I wish the viewer can invent their own story about them

Medium:

Ceramics.

I have done some photographic manipulation to create X-ray-like images.They are a little bit disturbing in reception (because of their obvious “fake character”) and absurdity. I have an idea that similar imagery could be presented on an old-school TV set, as a filtered live-feed from my skeleton installation.

Medium:

Photography

Size:

50x70cm