Veornika Horlik in interview with Xavier Lacroix, Radio Canada, Côte-Nord
OR access the Radio Canada Côte-Nord archives AUDIO FILE HERE
In The Unbearable Lightness of Being, Milan Kundera writes: “The heaviest of burdens is an image of life’s most intense fulfillment. The heavier the burden, the closer our lives come to the earth and the more real and truthful they become. Conversely, the absolute absence of burden causes man to be lighter than air, to take leave of the earth and become only half real, his movements as free as they are insignificant”. In his novel, Kundera juxtaposes the weighty burdens of human existence (where present-day actions are bogged-down by one’s past) with that of a weightless half-reality (life as an accidental affaire of fortuitous encounters). Beyond this simple dualistic view, what can be attained when an inclusive perspective is considered, one where substantial life experience co-exists courageously with a liberated mind? This pursuit for a balanced middle ground of existence fuels my artistic research.
The sculptural works in BURN BABY BURN draw on my experience working in reforestation in Canadian’s North. The image of charred organic material is derived from forest landscapes called burns: twice devastated land subjected to deforestation and then subsequently to forest fire. What surrounds you in a burn landscape is nothing less than surreal; a desolate environment strewn with large charred tree stumps and slash that look like ulcer-type sculptures spotting the land. Viewed from a distance, these black shapes appear as if they may have fallen from the sky. It is difficult to associate them with the forest that once stood in their place. In these vast burned sylviculture sites, industrial incursions mix with the strength and beauty of nature, and a persistent air of devastation mixes blatantly with the possibility of magnificent regeneration. The vibrancy of topsoil re-growth is effervescent in greens and rust oranges. This phenomenon, drawn from the forest landscape, mirrors the human condition: our moments of dejection and despair are only intermediate and transitory. The sculptures in the BURN series (2009 – 2013) have the potential to free themselves from the fixed conditions that hold them in place: objects tilt at sharp angles, wheeled structures are ready to change position, and heavy elements are held in place by detachable load-binding straps. This immanent possibility for movement reminds us that in our hands we hold the potential for change and renewal at any moment.
Three areas of interest come together in each of the sculptures: 1) The burned landscapes of the forestry industry; 2) A visible play with weight, and the striking of an unlikely balance; and 3) A juxtaposition of 2- and 3-dimensional media. By forcing a relationship between object and image, BURN BABY BURN examines the very materiality of the ceramic medium, and the effect on our understanding of the object when juxtaposed with a 2-dimensional representation.
“the only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars.” - Jack Kerouac, On the Road.