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Show RCA 2019

Susie Olczak

Show RCA work

Major project:

Chain Reaction

This body of work is a chain reaction of experimental making. A process of constructing, taking apart and reconfiguring. It uses the idea of the artist model and materials in a studio or an architectural practice to speak of both the calm and chaos of London as a city. The sculptures layer up optical print and become a blur. This is an experience reminiscent of when people move through cities or the grids of digital space –  becoming lost in the pixels. It aims to playfully encourage the viewer to question what is real and what is fake, commenting on how, so often now in society, it is difficult to discern reality. The sculptures give a sense of being able to be reconfigured in order to offer the viewer the hope of control over the spaces around them.

On sections of the works, silicone and paint form expressive layers and obscure the view further. This is intended to ask the audience to reconsider how they see and experience the world. Questioning their focus on the slick nature of the shiny screen-like transparent forms and the printed media they are often exposed to. The silicone is a nod to plastic use and the duality between this material being seductive yet sinister. Photographs of foliage creep into parts of the work, suggesting growth and movement and the way that in cities foliage is intertwined with geometry. The sculptures become both chaotic and playful and, essentially, they are a way of collaging pieces of the world together. Focusing in on the details and framed fragments, they push the viewer’s perception of scale and aim to be bold and dynamic works.

Info

  • The intention of my work is to make people more aware of the spaces around them by framing the details that are often overlooked when moving through transitory spaces. For example, the way that light flickers in-between railings when you move past. I focus on the points in which there is a discrepancy between what we think we see and what we are actually seeing. In my sculptures, reflective surfaces make up a whole or the form changes as the viewer walks around. I use architectural materials – neon, stone, glass, concrete and steel combined to consider urban space as systems comprised of balance, weight and fragility. I investigate our relationship with the built environment and how this is changing with today’s times. We are polarised between altering states of flux and the tension of uncertainty and stability. I do this by creating works that are precariously or imposingly balanced on one point, by using more fragile materials to prop up heavier mass, or by unusual combinations of materials like submerging neon into water.

    Underpinning the work are themes of time, climate change and urban development constructed around the context of new technologies and post-digital culture. I am interested in the ever-increasing reliance on technology, and in the flaws and details within it. I have been making work about how virtual space is navigated or how that highlights when the machine has taken over and caused errors or glitches in the materials. I am interested in the way that natural phenomena such as water and light affect our experience of the world around us. Water represents the passing of time. In my current research, I am focusing on the importance of water within cities and in the duality between it being a beautiful material that is difficult to control and something that is increasingly more threatening.

  • Previous degrees

  • BA Fine Art: Sculpture, Glasgow School of Art, 2010
  • Experiences

  • Artist educator, Cambridge University Museums, Cambridge, 2012-19; Assistant project manager, Futurecity, Cambridge, 2011-15
  • Exhibitions

  • Everything you ever wanted to know about sculpture, South London Gallery Orozco Garden, London, 2019; Summer Exhibition, Palazzo de Zenobio, Venice, 2018; Bursary Award Exhibition, Royal Society of Sculptors, London, 2018; Demolition, Aid & Abet, Cambridge, 2014
  • Awards

  • Villiers David, Travel Grant, 2018; Royal Society of Sculptors, Bursary Award, 2016
Royal College of Art