Interviewed by: Eliana Blechman
We asked Ira Eduradovna a few questions about her art, the importance of format and structure in her work, and the influence of memory and place. Read on for more...
Art-in-Buildings: Much of your work references location. At 125 Maiden Lane, Brighton Beach focuses on a specific neighborhood in Brooklyn, NY, and Chekhov Street #5 on a specific address. How does sense of place inform your work?
Ira Eduardovna: My work often deals with displacement and migration, its personal and political aspects. Sometimes it presents a recreation of a specific place from memory - as in Chekhov street #5, which is a specific address that I was trying to recreate from pieces of photographs and images I found, based on memory. On the other hand, Brighton Beach is a fragmented recreation of a landscape. There is a large community of immigrants from the former USSR living in the Brighton Beach area, and it is interesting to see how the place really reminds you of some towns in the former Soviet Union. So in a way, Brighton Beach (the place not the piece) is also a recreation of a lost place based on memory, just as in some of my works. I am interested in this stubborn will to recreate a lost place, as well as perhaps a lost time.
AiB: Your art feels very intimate. To what extent does memory and personal experience play into your work?
IE: In my work I often deconstruct narratives of an autobiographical nature. Memory plays a major role in my work: memory is fleeting, it's fluid and it's fragmented. A memory of a place can be a place. Yet memory is also untouchable, and the moment we touch it, it dissolves into something else. I am interested in the tension between the attempt to relive a memory and the impossibility of reliving it.
AiB: There is a certain amount of voyeurism involved in your artwork. In Checkhov Street #5 we unfold a house to peer around fences and into different rooms, and in Brighton Beach we are watching the world through a train window. What is important about the act of looking?
IE: I think that voyeurism, in a way, creates moments of strange and perhaps uncomfortable intimacy with the work, as the viewers see the places and the characters that I create "uninterrupted" or without the places/characters being aware of the gaze.
AiB: Your videos are extremely tangible – arrangement and structure is as important in the works played on TV screens as those projected onto wooden sculpture. How do you approach formatting and layout in your work?
IE: I see the physical structure of my work, whether it involves sculptural objects or TV monitors, as a continuation of the narrative, or another fragment of it. I develop the structure and the narrative itself simultaneously, and deconstruct the narrative architecturally so that the architecture of the installation is the tool that stitches the fragmented narrative back together.
AiB: Your work involves repetitive motion and a self-referential relationship across multiple projections. What is the value of repetition and/or interaction across screens?
IE: Repetition and difference are important motives that I investigate in my work. My work can look like multiple perspectives of the same scene - a closer look will reveal that it is a repetition of an act, rather than one act that is filmed with multiple cameras - and it brings us to the issue of time. Past, present and future are shown together and create a new time, while the viewers move through it and create the narrative spatially. In my work, the repetition isn't perfect. There are small changes that happen in every repeat, and this drives the narrative forward, in a circular/spiral structure.
Repetition also has an element of discipline in it. In my work I create characters that follow this discipline, sometimes in a mechanic way, as automatons that are controlled by some sort of higher force.
AiB: What's next for you?
IE: I am currently at Wave Hill Winter Workspace, where I have the chance to experiment and develop some new ideas and pieces that deal with fragmentation of space. Aside from that, I am finishing a project that I have been working on for the past 3 years and filmed last summer in my hometown of Tashkent in Uzbekistan. I filmed the project in collaboration with Ilkhom theater - which is a great independent theater in Tashkent, and I am currently in postproduction.
Learn more about Ira Eduardovna's installation here.