"Ska I hate You", DVD, 2009, Image courtesy of the artist

Aleksandra Ska, “Ska I hate You”, DVD, 2009, Image courtesy of the artist

SARAH WALKO: Do you have a specific routine with your studio time such as you work late at night or 1st thing in the morning?  

ALEKSANDRA SKA: I work irregularly but when I work on new project I am extremely patient, careful, scrupulous. When I achieve all the desired effects I take a break and do not know how long it will last. 

SW:  Is there any geographical place that you had an experience that served as a threshold or break through moment in the evolution of your practice? 

AS: Eleven years ago I abandoned work, marriage, friends, house and moved to Poznań. It was a moment in which I started new life and first time signed up SKA.

SW: Why did you choose to move to Poznań and where did SKA come from as your new artist identity?

"Polypore woman", Still, DVD, 2014, Image courtesy of the artist

Aleksandra Ska, “Polypore woman”, Still, DVD, 2014, Image courtesy of the artist

AS: The reason why I moved from Łódź to Poznań was great love. This has been the single most important decision of my life – a watershed which involved giving up my previous life for the sake of the relationship with a wonderful person –  Leszek Knaflewski, in a place which was altogether new. This life’s upheaval determined all sort of changes: divorce, handing in my notice at the university in Łódź, leaving my family and friends behind. For me, this meant a new start, a kind of ordeal, a challenge and a chance to prove myself. Poznań became the place where I began my life anew, together with Leszek. We had both left quite baggage of things and experiences behind, only to start gathering those yet again. 

I sought to identify myself in this new reality. As I was looking for SKA, I combined the future with the past times – ska is the ending of my previous and current last name. The isolation of the inflexive suffix and designating myself as SKA came naturally enough. I used the pseudonym for the first time in 2004, the year I moved to Poznań, during the Sculpture Triennial in Orońsk, where I showed Z, a piece dedicated to Leszek. Since then, that is for over 11 years, none of my works has been signed otherwise. The SKA has become a part of me, a symbol, a device, a point in time from which I date my artistic work – it is from that moment that I have known I do it for real, without artifice, that I devote myself to art and see it as a way of life. Adopting the SKA was like putting a stamp on it, a trademark of quality – I even have a logo.

SW: Are any of your pieces self portraits? 

AS:  See video below: 

SW: What is one current project you are working on we can look for coming up? 

AS: I have been working on Pandemic.

Details from "Pandemic project”, Images courtesy of the artist

Aleksandra Ska, Details from “Pandemic project”, Images courtesy of the artist

SW: Can you tell us more about your project Pandemic

AS: My project aims at [commenting on a] fictionalized threat of and fear before global catastrophe. However this fictionalization operates not through fantastic imagery of upcoming disaster. Nothing dramatic will be presented.  What I going to show will be rather  uncannily  beautiful. It will be something that operates through mimicking scientific images and discourse ―images of deadly viruses will be accompanied by their precise scientific characteristics.  I want to create suspense in the “Pandemic” that will be followed by revealing the fictional [quality] of any science.  It will be revelation of fake proofs and shoddy, artificial object

SW: What is your relationship with making the audience uncomfortable? Is this an aim in your work or no?

AS: Most of my works derive from the need to translate experiences and things I have been through or emotions into a language of art. It is not my intention to usher the viewer into a situation fraught with discomfort – the situation arises on its own.

In artistic work, I am guided by the idea I seek to give a real shape to, finding means to express it.  I opt for various media, sometimes an object and sometimes a video. As I work, I do realize that what I am doing may cause discomfort in perception, but I am frequently surprised by such a reaction, though I take no satisfaction from it. I approach it rather in terms of analysis, an observation or experience of the manner in which my work exerts an impact on a person, and the emotion it stirs up.

Still, discomfort is a salient theme in my work. Take the project Unproductive for instance – for some, drilling teeth is nothing short of unbearable.  In Postulate, the sphere of discomfort is generated by styrofoam being rubbed against glass. In Hubababa the unease emerges at the notional level – deliverance from imprisonment may only be achieved in three ways – by cutting the overgrown nails open, by pulling them out or by cutting down the tree. The decision, left to the viewer’s own discretion, is reinforced by the female laughter which smoothly turns to weeping. Meanwhile, in the most recent project, The Pandemic, I deliberately play the feeling game, looking for a new visual language. To put it in the simplest of terms: there is nothing to like about it, here’s where you got to feel the fear.

Aleksandra Ska, "Unproductive”, Still, DVD, 2011, Image courtesy of the artist

Aleksandra Ska, “Unproductive”, Still, DVD, 2011, Image courtesy of the artist

SW: Are you sea or land? day or night? 

AS: I am the sea at night.

SW: Who is one living artist you’d love to have a drink with? one dead one? 

AS: This is obvious that I would love to have a drink with my dead husband and also to have a drink with Morrissey or Maya Deren.

SW: What kind of bird are you?

AS: I am common swift.

Sarah Walko, is an Eyes Towards the Dove contributor and specializes in interviews with artists.

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