Diann Bauer / text



The following is an interview by Francesca Gavin for Dazed and Confused, October 2007
What's your creative background? What did you study, past projects etc.
I studied art and architecture in NYC at Cooper Union and did my MA in Art at Goldsmiths. Both of these programs really suited me because neither asked students to claim a field of practice (ie, painting OR scuplture OR etc., aside of course from the architecture) and I have never really been able nor have I wanted to fix my practice to any one category. Architecture, well more specifically architectonic language in the form of drawings and models, is something that has always haunted my practice. Even when I was studying it I never really had the intention of going into practice it was more gaining of a fluency in this spatial language that interested me. It seemed a very good education for an artist.
As for past projects, I did a few things with Alleged Gallery in NYC what feels like ages ago now and since coming to London I have been lucky enough to be showing pretty regularly both here and abroad since finishing my MA. I was in the Busan Biennale last year in Korea. They commissioned a large new work; a 6-meter painting that was originally installed into a black wall, which divided the space functioning architecturally while also referencing a cinema screen. Probably the project that has excited me most thus far was at The Showroom, in London. I did a site-specific installation of a 26meter wall painting there in January 06, the walls were specifically built to bend through the space accentuating the already strange plan of the gallery. In the painting I used images from 19th century Japanese prints, architectural drawing expanded out from Lebbeus Woods, a bit of Rubens and several less overarching influences to create a cacophony of visual information while the architecture forced how it was seen.

What will you be making/showing at the Paradise Row show?
The Paradise Row show will again be a large installation. I am building two curved walls in the gallery with inter-related drawings covering each, and a sculpture comprised of many parts that will define a sort-of arial city suspended with a network of stings.
What interests you about violence?
Violence has been a consistent element in my work for many years. It is the thing that I find most compelling both because of the realities of violence and its presence within contemporary life and politics but also as it functions spectacularly within and as entertainment; as a source of excitement. I am interested in the crossover between these functions.
What draws you to narrative and drama in your work?
Along with the Japanese prints and history painting, cinema has also been very important for me; both Hollywood as well as more obscure stuff, for example I've recently been really excited by parts of Tony Scott's Deja Vu and the American indie movie Primer. As I see it, history painting is already quite Hollywood.
At the same time as your work seems to tell stories, they seem to collapse and fragment. There aren't clear-cut. What attracts you to that sense of something broken?

Unlike Hollywood cinema, I am interested in interweaving a multiplicity of coexisting information rather than a depiction of any one event, object space or narrative. So rather than an interest in something broken I see it more as an excess of information at once. This overlapping and fracturing allow enough information to give a sense of body or space or violence but isn't a representation of any one of them. It's the fracturing and combination of images that allows them to do something other than they would do on their own. This disruption of images is also an additional, less overt but more tangible, violence in the work.
Why do you like to work on such a large scale? You work with prints and drawings, but have discussed your work more in the context of sculpture. Why?

These two questions are very inter-related and in a way the second partly answers the first. I tend to employ both a scale that impacts on the body in a very immediate way, because of its size. But I also tend to use a lot of small detail. I want the work to function on many levels and one way is through the need to move around the work, ie.back and forth, both to literally see the larger picture as well as to see the local immediate detail. The shifting perspective that the work demands is an additional way it disorients and disallows cohesion. This is a sculptural element of the work.  I do think of my work 3 dimensionally (and I suppose 4 dimensionally as well because the time shifts and overlapping of many moments and spaces at once). I am most excited when I have the opportunity to take on a project that allows me to really do something specific with a space so the architecture becomes as much a part of the work as the drawings. Altering the architecture of a space can change how you have to look at a drawing, how close and how far you can get from it etc. I tend
to think of my practice as being installations rather than drawing or painting. The three dimensionality of the work is really becoming more present at the moment. I think that my move from the Japanese prints to the history painting is in part to understand what happens when the figurative element in the work becomes volumised. I am also interested to see what happens when there are actual three-dimensional objects that visually interact with the drawings, as an additional fracturing element.  
Influences and inspirations?
Well I have spoken of many already but in the upcoming show there is appropriation from the work of:
Lebbeus Woods, Coop-Himmelblau, Zaha Hadid, Kurt Schwitters, Jon Johansen, Ashok Bhaumani, Rubens and Michelangelo. I suppose there is still a bit of Akira in there too.