Izabela Pluta: Figures of slippage and oscillation
The title ‘Figures of slippage and oscillation’ follows on from an exhibition of the same name held at Artspace, Sydney in 2018, which comprised a single-channel audio component and 60 darkroom contact prints produced without a camera, the result of printing relief maps from three editions of The Reader’s Digest Great World Atlas 1961, 1968 and 1970. The show and this new mediation relate to Pluta’s preoccupation with how images and mediums, to which we ascribe documentary potential, operate and in turn affect perception.
As such it’s fitting that the book opens with an essay by Isobel Parker Philip who reflects on the multifaceted inspirations, process and visual outcomes of Pluta’s work and writes on these in parallel to US history, her personal memories of youth and the architecture of the Reader’s Digest office in Sydney. In doing so she mirrors the multiplicity of Pluta’s messaging about geography and cartography, it doesn’t conform to usual delineations so what we see is like ‘spreading bacteria… undone and askew.’ The author distils the intention of the body of work as one which shows ‘the aerial view is a perspectival device that can divide as readily as it unified’ and then it comes full circle as she states ‘borders are bodied.’
The trio of Pluta’s Spatial misalignments are interspersed (and on alternating paper stocks) with text works by Melbourne poet Lisa Gorton, a mimesis of Pluta’s portal-like creations that blend ways of seeing and offering a new insight. Gorton does this first with a descriptive narrative about the act of vision, redacted on the page that follows. For the central text she adopts a repetitive trope, which is effective and haunting, listing ‘between the time of this publication and its fourth revise’, as it applies to the editions of maps Pluta worked from, the numerous bombs and explosions upon the landscape, inscribing what was lost and human footprints erased, pointing to globalisation and colonialism. Bookending this, and the third paired text, offers a window into a zone where Gorton’s sensuous prose evokes beauty and danger, again, the second copy is redacted.
Pluta is clearly drawn to the aesthetic and allegorical potential of artefacts; she uses the tools on hand to drop the guide and cut a path that, as the publisher says ‘bears witness to the turbulence, mutability and power structures that both prop up and undermine the static dogmas of the global map.’