1) Tell us about yourself and your work.
My name is Izabela Ołdak. I was born in Rybnik, in Poland in 1982. I am a visual artist and art curator. I received MFA at the Dutch Art Institute, ArtEZ in Enschede (2008-2010) and MA at the Academy of Fine Arts in Poznan in Poland (2002-2007).
I express myself in various media like: painting, performing, site-specific installations, public and media art. I also work as a freelance curator collaborating with Bielska Gallery BWA in Bielsko-Biała in Poland where I initiated and curate a “Beyond Time” Artist-in-Residence program, organized by the gallery since 2011. I am also conducting exhibitions, workshops, outdoor art, giving lectures and presentations.
2) Where does the inspiration come from?
My work combine exquisite craftsmanship with conceptual and spiritual inquiries inspired by nature, history of particular place, mythology, magic, folklore, dreams and patterns.
My art is also influence by artist like: Alex Grey, Pablo Amaringo, Andy Goldsworthy, Agnes A. Arellano, Andrew Gonzalez, Andrzej Urbanowicz, Charles Gilchrist, Frank Stella, Ina Kozel, Jerry Ulesmann, Anish Kapoor, Jon Macnair, Marina Abramowić, Frida Kahlo, Shirin Neshat, Yayoi Kusama, Mia Pearlman, Stephanie Inagaki, Tanya Tagaq, Yusuke Asai, and all kind of folk art, native art, cave art.
3) Which is the need of your art?
It is the need of creation, transformation and transcendence. In my artistic research and practice I am referring to the roots of Arts, which I see in transcendental experiences and magic. There were times when human life was connected to the natural environment and when the Arts were considered spiritual, magical, a secret language used in many rituals and rites. It has been associated with the exploration of the soul and the secrets of Nature, the beginning of taming the world, and to personalize and spiritualize the human as an individual. I believe that with knowledge of the past, comes understanding of the present. Therefore in order to discover the essence of creation and the primal role of an artist I found it necessary to go back to its roots. Exploration of this subject leaded me to spiritual development through art, not only by creating it, but becoming art itself in performances which took the form of rituals and symbolic actions.
4) Tell us about your experiences in art fairs, exhibitions and others.
I did not have good experiences in such events. What did not feel right to me (especially in big events such as Art Fairs, biennials or auctions) was the treatment of the artists and the art itself presented as a consumer product, ripped out of any deeper idea or thought. Many of the exhibitions I have seen or participated were to me more as a curatorial or fashionable shows. Directed and opened for very narrow publicity. That is why I decided to become a curator myself to have an influence to the whole event I am part of. I think that artist-curator will always have different perspective than art historian-curator. It is simply different sensitivity, so as different internal drive and purpose to make the exhibition, to collect the artist, or to select the subject. I also started to make public art (like murals or performances) and public events, like workshops and outdoor exhibitions. To me social and spiritual aspect of art is very important. Much more, than being a cog in the art market machine.
5) What does it means the art for you?
I often say: “I live to create, I create to live.” Art (as creation) is so firmly woven into my life that I can say that it means everything. It directed my path, my education and occupation; it is constantly forming my identity, influencing my daily life, my network and social role. I express myself through art. I think and perceive reality through my artistic sensitivity and background. Therefore art is to me the way of living, developing and progressing in every level: physical one, emotional, mental and spiritual.
6) What do you think about the art system in your country?
I am really unhappy with the art system in my country. There are definitely not enough good art programs, scholarships or grants. There is no social care or recognition of an occupation if it comes to individual artistic carer, so there is no retirement payment even if the artist would document 40 or more years of artistic activities. Therefore it is really difficult to be a full time artist. Participation in the exhibitions, Art Fairs, Biennials, auctions is never stable source of income, and the artist are often being used (for example by paying the fees, or exhibiting their works without getting a honorarium, or having the works sold etc.). It is really sad reality, where the artist either will connect to some institution (Art Schools, Galleries, Museums, etc.) or have a site job to manage his or hers living.
7) What is the future of art?
Art is a big power and transformation within itself. With new awareness and new technologies art will expand and be used largely in the way we can’t even imagine now.
I believe that in near future there will be a bigger place for art in educational, medical and therapeutic systems. That it will get strong enough to make real social, political and ecological changes. That it will serve high ideas as freedom, love, goodness, compassion and tolerance.
To the ones who make art I believe that it will make deep internal transformations. That it will be connecting people and rebuilding our bond with the universe and ourselves.
Thank you very much for reading.
Interview made for Berlin Magazine.