Artist Statement- Gabriela Schutz
Gabriela Schutz is an interdisciplinary artist, who is fascinated and apprehensive with the way technology, information, communication and capitalism are increasingly shaping our world. She is looking at how myths and belief systems have influenced our relationships with our environment, and how they have led humanity to become an overbearing force of nature.
In the project Human Force of Nature, Schutz focuses on our relationship with nature and the attempt to master it. She explores myths such as the biblical creation story and the Fruit of Knowledge, as well as the ongoing association of nature with the feminine, which has justified the moulding and abuse of both. She aims to challenge dichotomies of culture/ nature and male/ female by using invented symbols for Mother Earth and The West, along with images of trees. These themes and and the use of reclaimed and recycled materials, invite the viewer to consider the Anthropocene and the return to Earth’s bosom.
Your 5 a Day series focuses on nature as a resource in service for capitalism and is named after a government campaign encouraging the public to eat vegetable. It looks at how produce becomes a product, packaged in squared plastic and cellophane structures, to maximise load and safety, during journeys from far and exotic lands. This series corresponds with 17th century still life painting of fruit and vegetables, and with printing which became a popular medium at that time. The etchings of this series highlight mass production, however this is an old technology, slow and imperfect, left behind while the 21st century rushes forward.
Since 2007 Schutz has been focusing on the way we experience reality through the prism of technology and communication. In Where R U? series, the solitary figures are texting or talking on their phones. Though they are physically present, mentally they are unengaged with where they are. Many of the figures and their surroundings, are portrayed as symbols, referring to the pictograms we exposed to on our phones and in the public sphere. In the sculptures Schutz uses durable materials, like clay and plaster, that will survive the test of time, as a foil to the non-physical data which currently stores so much of our personal and cultural information.
Nowadays, saturated with photographs, glancing at them momentarily and moving on, painting from observation offers silence and concentration that encourages the viewer to slow down and contemplate. The meticulous scanning of the environment by the eye is a kind of resistance to the culture of skimming and liking. In the ongoing project Moments, Schutz draws and paints from observation, while integrating the image with a text, as found in social media. The works frame a moment in time, like receiving cherries from the neighbour’s tree, or a triumphant moment of solving a Rubik cube. Modest experiences that tend to be shared as a post or a story. There, they will be drifted into an endless stream of data, while on paper, in their physicality and permanence, they cherish the uniqueness of those moments.
Zooming out, the aerial views of endless detached houses is moving away from the personal. The Suburbia series explores the inspecting gaze of satellites and capitalistic forces, and our dream of owning a house. The design of the houses was based on the English terrace house and Israeli brutal and political architecture. The works are constructed on grid systems that represent human ratio and efficiency. These seeming utopias appear perfect at first glance, but on a closer inspection they are revealed to not function very well. In cheap mass production there are occasional mistakes and imperfections, and in computerised systems, invasions of viruses and Trojan horses are commonplace.
In the Holyland series Schutz was looking further at how architecture and demography of a place reflects on its social, cultural and political agendas. In her visit to the occupied territories, looking through fenced Jewish settlements positioned strategically on the top of the hills, the untouched Palestinian landscape looked like the Romantic depictions of the Holy Land by European travellers. Schutz used the same drawing style and techniques as they have, to highlight the manifestation of colonial ideas through architecture and culture.
In the series Non Place Schutz was looking at how we are being willingly manipulated by an unfettered capitalist system. The environments are shopping centres, retails parks airports and motorways. These non- places supply the perfect conditions for buying and arriving directly to a destination, without the need for a personal communication. They are universal sort of cosmologies, familiar and recognisable. In their artistic style, the works refer to drawings of places from the past, and perhaps by the action of drawing, they lose their anonymity and become a place again.
In our reality we have hetrotopias- spaces that are contained in our physical world, yet they are ephemeral, mirroring our world and reflecting back, like mirrors, libraries and computer games. The Game On series maps out an imaginary world, populated by masked figures. As each image reveals another viewpoint of the environment they inhabit, we see them engaged in situations of opposition, conflict and control. They could be the characters in a labyrinthine computer game, in a world which is at once archaic and futuristic. At times, we find them in mazes, orchards and gardens seeing it all from above and gain a vantage point which a drone posses.
Looking through Schutz’s oeuvre, one notices the strong social and political engagement that is weaved throughout it, along motives and symbols that she returns to again and again.
Through the process of art making, Schutz gains a better understanding of reality in the 21st century, and tries to find what it means to be humane nowadays.
© Gabriela Schutz