Art Careers – Yana Eekert

yanaaaaaaaThis is the second feature in a series where art professionals discuss their position in the art world, how they got there and their responsibilities. In this edition Yana Eekert, a young installation artist, explains her education, her process of creation and her current pursuits.

I started my studies at the Grafisch Lyceum in Rotterdam, where I took an additional course in preparation of the Art Academy. The focus of these classes was on the visual exploration of a theme from our own perspective. It taught me a new manner of creative approach. This new way of thinking appealed to me and I realized I could develop my creativity at the Art Academy even further. Thus in 2010 I started my studies in visual art at the Art Academy St. Joost in Breda.

After my graduation I participated in exhibitions regularly. Because of the nature of my work I have to spend more time in the exhibition space beforehand. I like to be able to spend a set amount of time alone with my artistry, daily live presents too much distraction.

My ‘art’ mostly exists as perishable sculptures, they are made out of vulnerable materials and constructed in a form or situation where they should not be able to be. I mix materials in a way that puts pressure on the sculpture, causing them burst, or I create pedestals which play part in the destruction of a piece rather than supporting it. The moment in which the works do exist and the evoked tension is what interests me.

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Yana Eekert, Hout in bedwang door gips (Wood contained by plaster), 2014, wood and plaster.
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Yana Eekert, The party will go on without you, 2016, plaster and paint.

This working method came into being during my research into value and what that means to me. In relation to my work I am studying both the judgement of value from a spectator and the value these objects have to me. How do these materials gain so much significance in a short period of time? Why does it hurt every time one of these sculptures breaks, while they have been constructed from cheap materials? How do I experience the shift in the appreciation, which in a short timeframe shifts from admiration to rejection, of spectators? Why would this approval of strangers even play a part at all?

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Yana Eekert, Gips vs Hout, elastiek en spijkers (Plaster vs Wood, elastic and nails), 2014, plaster, wood, elastic and nails.
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Yana Eekert, detail of Gips vs Hout, elastiek en spijkers (Plaster vs Wood, elastic and nails), 2014, plaster, wood, elastic and nails.

The production process of my work is often a struggle; a struggle with the material, the weather conditions, the people around me. It gives me a lot of stress, giving the moment of existence that much more beauty to me. In the process I feel like I am trying to revive a dead thing, to let it be for a while until it collapses and again take on a new form.

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Yana Eekert, Rising up, 2015, plaster.

For example the image above shows an installation made entirely out of plaster. The shapes of the different parts are casts from objects I found in that particular environment, namely dead branches. Beautiful about this is that to a certain level I do not have control over these already existing shapes, which affect the overall form of the sculpture. The branches are transformed into a new figure. The result is a combination of what already existed and my proceedings.
The weather condition (snow) was an important factor in the destruction of this work, which also impeded on creation. Another complicating factor were the surrounding trees, from which branches fell as it stormed. Each morning I walked to my creation site nervous to see if the work survived the previous night. This unrest and stress made the finished works existence fantastic.
Not surprising the sculpture collapsed after a short time of holding on. Two years after this I dug out the remains between branches, moss and earth to give the work a new shape again.

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Yana Eekert, Digging up the debri, 2017, plaster, moss, glass and old tree trunks.

Currently I work as a gallery manager and producer at art foundation A Tale of a Tub and I regularly help out at Witte de With and Art Rotterdam. Besides this I am a graphic designer and I always have some project to work on.
Even though I am not creating a lot of art right now I am very content to actively work in the cultural field. On a daily basis I occupy myself with interesting questions, with each new project I step into a different world. From a project about the disappeared landscapes in Palestine, to the Spanish philosopher Maria Zambrano, to topical issues about area development and migration. This is what artistry means for me at the moment; to keep researching and keep being curious about the world around me.

Photographs: courtesy of the artist.

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