As the pandemic urges us to rethink how spaces operate, this online exhibition embraces the healing connotations of ordinary objects and unremarkable, daily moments. Katia Kesic’s introspective work explores ideas of identity and belonging, taking inspiration from the mundane. For the artist, the ordinary is not always what it seems, and her daily appointments and the conversations she overhears have become invaluable inspirations for her work. Kesic’s artistic practice is meditative and vulnerable. It explores the sexual politics of artistic labour and the fear that comes from being a female artist today, by confronting the status quo through the lenses of care.
The works presented, which are abundantly decorated from head to toe, are a lush, baroque-like tableau that combine still life – skeletal, taxidermied – with the dreamy, petrified gaze of the living.
In this interview, Kesic talks about the yoga mat and the positive impact it has brought to many aspects of her life. This object represents a starting point from where care can develop and orient our lives amid disorder and uncertainty.
Maria Valeria Biondo
Maria Valeria: Why did you choose the yoga mat?
Katia Kesic: During the second wave of the pandemic (October-November) my mood and overall state of mind was spiralling down. During the summer it wasn’t that bad, and the weather helped me a lot. But as Fall approached I started to realise that I felt trapped in unhealthy routines. I started to lose my motivation and at some point, I just couldn’t do anything . I really needed to bring some sort of positive structure into my daily patterns. I was already into yoga during the first wave, but in October I felt I needed to take it more seriously and dedicate more time to it.
I see it as a tool to calm myself down and take a step back from the accelerating rhythms of life. During the pandemic, it helped me to stay away from social media and stop worrying about my body, my mind and my soul. It helped me release the mental loops of frustration, stress and anxiety and got me into the right mind-set.
Yoga is something that helps me self reflect. I usually try not to think about anything during the practice and to be present but, sometimes, I have some insights or inspiring thoughts coming up in the process. Meditation is a great self reflection tool as well.
Also, this mat was a birthday present from my dearest friends, so every time I pull it out I remember their faces, which is heart-warming and makes a big difference during the lonely lockdown.
Blue Water, 2020
Underglaze and earthenware glaze on earthenware clay, glass eye, resin
65W x 42D x 48H cm
MV: Do you do yoga everyday?
KK: I wish I could say ‘’yes’’ but I’m still not that disciplined. That’s something I would like to improve as well. If I can’t do a proper yoga session I make sure I stretch at least 15-20 minutes a day, that helps with “lockdown back pain”.
MV: Your practice also connects with rituality and daily habits. Do you associate that with yoga as well? Is it, somehow, a ritual to you?
KK: I believe the small everyday rituals can keep you grounded and feel safe, it’s a fulcrum (pivot point) for me. When you are able to do something that you really enjoy everyday it gives you a sense of stability and hope. For some people it can be morning coffee ritual, for some – running, for another –just fixing stuff around the house. It's a time which you devote fully to yourself and it’s a very nice comforting feeling.
Bedtime Story, 2020
Earthenware glaze on earthenware clay, resin, mirror perspex, fabric
175W x 113H cm
MV: When did you become interested in this activity?
KK: 18 years ago I tried Yoga for the first time. Those days Yoga wasn’t as popular in Russia but It stuck with me and although I am not a ‘’pro’’ at it,
it became an irreplaceable practice. For me it has always been more about keeping practicing it on a regular basis, rather than seeing it as a sport.
MV: You are interested in symbols and the role they have as intermediaries between the Inside and the Outside. Can you tell me more about this?
KK: The meditation and yoga practice is a sort of escapism. You look deep inside yourself and search for the answers. In fact, while exterior life becomes more dull and our minds are lacking entertaining activities, they try to compensate for them. So my imagination and dreams have become more active and vivid than ever.
My new body of work reflects my Covid frame of mind through repetitive patterns and volumes, a waterspout as a symbol of routine and moving energy-vortex to escape. At the same time they are my attempt to be in a dreamlike natural environment.
Knight's Dream, 2020
Underglaze and earthenware glaze on earthenware clay, wax
35W x 35 x 50H cm
Katia explores the human body as a memory vessel which collects traces of one’s reality/inner subjectivity and the imagination. The African fabric patterns of Brixton, memorised view from Moscow flat, cosmic and esoteric symbols of media/fashion trends & their aesthetics - she is using all this information stream as a source for work. By converting these influences into an independent elements she is creating ones own mythology. Katia distancing herself from the layers of memory and associations in order to get to their essence, whilst speculating on how much our personal identity is influenced by the inner or the outer world; be it immigration, sexuality, connection to the environment.
In her most recent body of work ‘’ Bedtime story’’, the process of creating was more personal and intuitive, while working with a range of mythological and folkloric references. Driven by her interest in spiritual practices – the power of energies, subconsciousness, connection to nature and how all that influences our sense of self and interconnection with the world. The works inquire how we can incorporate these practices into everyday life. The process of working of these works happened on the first wave of pandemic, bringing heightened emotions of anxiety, stress, fear of loss, old and new wounds to the surface. Through addressing and becoming aware of these, it becomes clear that they are as part of us as much as possibility of self acceptance, self – love and discovering the inner fire and strength to develop, fight and progress. Such realization fed strongly into creative process with Bedtime story series of work.