Renata Buziak – Afterimage: how memories decompose

Renata Buziak has lived in Australia for almost 20 years but carries with her visions of her childhood in her homeland Poland. These memories of a far distant place both in time and space she has cultivated to find form and meaning in the present. Ironically through a process of decay, Buziak aims to revive and explore this territory between the real and the imagined, for both the gardens of her memories and Buziak’s photographs are regenerated paradoxically through a process of decomposition. Buziak literally has traveled back to Poland and used plants from areas near her hometown of Janów Lubelski, rotting them into the photographic paper, the magical medium of memory. Employing chance, microbes, time and specific plants she aims to evoke and find contemporary forms for the emotional landscapes of her childhood in Poland.

These memories from her time as a child living in a small town in Poland became inspiration for this series of photographic works. ‘Summer gardening work, the preparation of cornflower wine, bon fires, the smell of hay and ash, sunlight filtered through the trees or the canvas of a tent, backyards full of vegetables and fruit, piles of coal and a cellar full of preserves in preparation for a long winter, as well as long walks to school through fields covered with white crispy snow’. These are the words that Buziak has used to describe her recollections and it is this emotional space, this childhood intensity, to which she is trying to give form.

The titles Summer’s Offerings, Bon fire, Farming fields, Cornflower wine, Over the Lagoon and Hay & Ash suggest a romanticised childhood but she uses this energy and these thoughts to drive her more physically grounded work as she prepares her small boxed gardens in warm dark environments using plant cuttings, moisture and millions of microbes on a gelatinous base of photographic paper. These grounded small fetid terrarium gardens, a far echo of the mythical landscapes of childhood memory, act to transform the materials through decomposition and further then by the process of scanning, editing and printing.

The photographic artworks of Sigmar Polke and Daro Montag also privilege the idea of process and residue. Polke, employing chemical reactions and chance, both before and after the camera shutter is released, constructs evocative images that keep changing even in their exhibited form. Also the efforts of Daro Montag who working with the premise that the natural world may be better understood through a study of interactive processes engages the assistance of wind, rain, micro-organisms, plants, insects, toads and other living matter. It is the indexical traces that create then, the art object or event.

Eyeing the works from Buziak’s Afterimage Series, the viewer recognises plant parts and organic structure, and the distance we are given to the decomposed objects is welcome. But in the hands of Renata Buziak, the process of decay creates beautiful and richly seductive images. The abstraction of nature and the abstract nature of the work, that is, the image and the object, ultimately speak as one voice in this work. Photographic interpretations of organic material that is dissolving and morphing speak as an image of process, in this case, a photographic print at a point of development.

ANCA Gallery
8 to 19 May, 2013

Tales of the Puddle (Opowieści Kałuży), archival pigment on Hahnemühle Torchon paper, 50 x 250cm

Farming Fields (Pola Uprawne), archival pigment on Hahnemühle Torchon paper

Courtesy the artist and ANCA Gallery

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