Past Residencies


Izabela Pluta
April – May, 2004

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(NSW)

Photography is often described as an indexical trace of the real, equivalent to a cast or imprint. In Izabela Pluta's practice, this notion of the trace is of paramount importance, and plays itself out in both photographic and sculptural works. The objects that Flute makes using materials such as resin, plaster and concrete, carry the impression of domestic surfaces and objects, including wallpaper, window frames and carpet. Similarly, in her photographs Flute focuses upon the stories that can be divined from lived-in spaces, empty rooms and objects that have been left behind.

In Izabela Pluta's Frontyards series, we are presented with views of the suburban landscape photographed from an unaccustomed angle. While the notion of landscape more often than not is dependant on the vista, Pluta's use of an aerial perspective renders these spaces as abstract compositions, fragments of land that have been landscaped,
concreted, fertilized, remodelled, cared for and lived in.

Seen from above, we get a sense of the earthy geometry of the front yard. In one image, a staggered row of bricks forms a makeshift border between two otherwise identical patches of ground. In other works, we see an arrangement of concrete pots or a colourful arc of flowers cutting a line through the dry soil The concreted composition of a front yard may also be misleading from this angle, becoming indistinguishable from other spaces such as industrial sites or a mini-golf course. The ordered composition of these spaces is disrupted by the scraggly details of nature and of nature and of age and further fragmented by the processes of photography.

The fact that these suburban fragments are presented life size has the effect of placing the viewer in the picture, elevating them to the height of the camera and reenacting its view. We may be able to imagine the artist taking these photos, precariously perched atop a ladder with her camera strapped to the end of a broomstick, performing a balancing act. In viewing the images, however the experience is quite different; it is as if these sections of earth are cut loose from
their context and in turn, we are cut loose from ours.

While these works generate a vertiginous view of the suburban verge, as if the viewer is hovering three metres in
the air, they also document a particular set of spaces. Front yards typically mark the boundary between public and private
space; the front yard is the face that a homeowner presents to the world and also a window into the home. In this series, as in much of her work, Flute searches the surface for the telling details, the traces of life that are imprinted into surfaces of objects or spaces; whether it is the cracked pavement that charts a path through a front yard or the ornaments and toys that lie scattered amongst the bushes.


Pluta's concern for surface goes beyond the superficial. It is the history that is inscribed in these surfaces that is of interest here. These histories can never be told through an image, but can only be hinted at. It is up to the viewer to allow themselves to be transported by the image and to see where the story may take them.

Chris Handran