Snejina Latev

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Artist Statement

I make work which imbues seemingly dissonant disorder with harmony and order through reorganizing and reconstructing information in a way it can be reprocessed. To understand a phenomenon, I rebuild it, and in the process I am able to perceive it from an otherwise inaccessible position.

The monochromatic series of sculptures were an investigation into creating a restricted system that governs the material construction of a group of objects and observing the resulting forms and their relationship. Our material world is made of matter. Matter is a set of atoms whose interrelationship creates molecules which in turn form the architecture of all material things. Therefore all materiality is governed by the strict set of parameters of atoms. Similarly, I made the sculptures within a strict set of parameters. They are constructed of two main materials, paper and graphite. The numerical values within the system, which governs their dimensions, are all a derivative of the number 6. Each piece starts from a stack of paper squares, 6in x 6in in diameter. It takes approximately 360 sheets to stack into a 6in x 6in x 6in cube. The forms are constructed by cutting out the layers from the loose sheets in the stack and re-stacking them into a form. The left over paper is then used to re-stack into a new piece and so on. They are also constrained by the three basic forms of a cube, a sphere and a tetrahedron pyramid. The relationship between the simplicity of the geometry and the complexity of the process required to attain its form provides the parameters for the sculptures to exist in a state of contained disorder.

This series is an endlessly ongoing work as each new sculpture inspires the form of the next. The process of making this series was also relevant as an investigation into the limits of control, patience and endurance and the consequence of patient and repetitive action. In the current technologically advanced era, these tasks have been mechanized and for the most part eliminated from our experience. However they are necessary as they provide a space to stimulate the brain into resolving more complex problems.

The video pieces also attempt to inject purpose and reason into observed phenomena in order to further understand them. In An Apology, a disembodied mouth reads the contents of an email sent as an apology. A consequence of the post internet era, the process of reading an email dis-attached from a voice or person, rids the author of the personal responsibility of the language, therefore extracting the precise reason for giving an apology. The piece attempts to rebuild the energy of the words robbed of their emotive worth in a mirrored symbolic mouth. Each combination of 4 cubes is equal to a different letter from the Latin alphabet. Through reorganizing, they spell out each word with the frequency and energy of the reading mouth. The gesturing and posturing of the animated sculptural form recreates the missing person writhing through the delivery of the apology. The video piece reconstructs, through gesture and kinetic energy, the absent person behind the email message and therefore restoring all elements necessary for delivering precise communication.

Monument is a video performance piece incorporating a sculpture constructed of tires. I made the piece over a two-month stay outside of Oaxaca where I was drawn to the plethora of disorderly fodder naturally occurring in Mexico. Appropriating refuse material is a common practice in Mexico as necessitated by the lack of the intended material out of economic or other reasons. As a result, a lot of discarded material is reused rather than piled onto dumps, creating a system for organizing waste. Tires are the most common example of material appropriation in Oaxaca and they are often reused to make toys and shoes. In the video, the protagonist constructs a tower from discarded tires he unburies from the ground beneath. While the piece is rife with visual metaphors referencing pollution, the Sisyphean task of injecting purpose into day labor, idolatry of one’s own creation, daughterhood and the promise of a new gender independent generation, etc. the simplicity of a single frame, the slowed frame-rate and abstracted auditory landscape provide an enclosure for thought-meditation on those otherwise complex and convoluted conditions.

During the same period while investigating this phenomenon of material appropriation, I happened upon a burned-down pencil factory. I made a set of sculptures with collected material from the mounds of discarded pencils. They took the form of skulls, not only for the iconic importance to the region but more so for their easily recognizable features against the entropic landscape. Once replaced into the mounds of pencils, they became uncanny personifications of recycled waste material, not unlike the colorful toy animals made out of tire rubber and sold in front of mechanic shops.

The practice of appropriating material in my work began with using drawing materials to construct sculptural forms as well as using left over material toward the construction of new work. In recognizing the phenomenon as a convention in manufacturing and construction in Mexico, I became interested in the social implications of the practice. Through rethinking what we consider waste material before it becomes garbage, giving it both aesthetic and symbolic value, we can begin to reimagine the ways to deal with our waste.